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Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri has thanked Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez for making things easy for him when he joined Napoli in the summer of 2015.

Benitez had left Napoli at the end of 2014/15 season after failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

Sarri took over from the Spaniard and went on to spend three years there before joining Chelsea this summer.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of his side’s game against Newcastle this weekend, Sarri said: “I have to say thank you to Rafa. When I arrived in Naples I had the feeling that the team was almost ready to play my football. If I arrived after another coach it may have been more difficult for me.”

He added that the former Liverpool coach is very competent and revealed that he expects a difficult game after Chelsea lost by three goals to nothing at St James’ Park last season.

Chelsea are on the back of two Premier League wins, and will be hoping to make it three in a row.