Maurizio Sarri believes Chelsea are the third best team in the Premier League, behind Manchester City and Liverpool.

Chelsea sit top of the table, on goal difference, after a perfect start to the season with Sarri enjoying a remarkable start to life at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues were in turmoil during pre-season with Antonio Conte returning to take training despite the fact Chelsea were reportedly in advanced talks to hire Sarri as head coach.

Chelsea have looked superb with Eden Hazard leading their attack, but Sarri thinks his side’s defensive frailties are an issue.

‘Only eight players arrived for training at the beginning of the pre-season, so I think it’s normal that in this period we have some defensive problems,’

Sarri said. ‘We can cope with the problems with the quality in the offensive phase, but not in the defensive phase. So I have to organise them better defensively and the players have to understand that.’

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He added: ‘In my opinion two teams, Liverpool and Manchester City, are better than us.

‘We have to improve step by step, and my target is to become the best team in England in one year to 18 months.’

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Liverpool too are unbeaten this season, level on points with Chelsea, while City sit third after dropping two points against Wolves.

Sarri is just the fourth manager to win his first five Premier League games in charge, and is being hailed as a genius for turning Chelsea around after a difficult spell in the final months of Conte’s reign.