Following a troubling sequence of four defeats in seven games across all competitions, Chelsea has shown signs that it is regaining confidence after back-to-back victories against Tottenham and Fulham in the Premier League.

Maurizio Sarri rejected the idea that Chelsea's players have started showing him more respect, saying that their return to form is down to an improved mentality rather than a shift in his relationship with his squad.

Those wins have teed the Blues up for the visit of Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League on Thursday and Sarri said he was happy with his side's response since the chaos of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga's refusal to be substituted in the EFL Cup final loss to Manchester City.

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When asked whether his squad is difficult to manage, Sarri told reporters: "In my opinion no. Of course the situation is not easy because we are Chelsea, we have to win something, but the players are not very difficult to manage.

"They respected me before. It wasn't a problem for me, the dressing room. We have some problems with the mentality because we did very bad in two or three matches, not the dressing room.

"I was lucky because I have two very good goalkeepers. In the match against Tottenham, [Willy] Caballero did very well, in the match against Fulham, Kepa did very well. I am lucky for this because we have really two very, very good goalkeepers. You can see the situation was well managed, I was lucky I think."

Chelsea goes into its round-of-16 tie against Kyiv having qualified with a 5-1 aggregate win over Malmo, and Sarri indicated that the Europa League is an important competition for his players. However, the Italian does not see it as Chelsea's best hope of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

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"I think we can gain the spot in the Champions League in the Premier League. We are fighting. We are only two points away [from the top four] at the moment, and have to play one match. But the Europa League is a very important competition, the second in Europe, an important trophy with a spot for the Champions League."