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The performance of the players were poor in the 2-0 loss at Arsenal last weekend, which prompted Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri to publicly question the mentality of the players.

The players responded with an improved performance in the Carabao Cup victory over Tottenham on Thursday.

Asked if the performance against Tottenham was a reaction to the Sarri’s criticism of the players, Chelsea legend and assistant coach Gianfranco Zola said: “I don’t know. It might be. Certainly the players yesterday wanted to go to the final. They showed a lot of personality, they showed a lot of very good attitude. At the end the result and the performance was a consequence.

“I don’t know where it is coming from, to be honest. But I’m delighted it came out yesterday because we needed it.

“It can go one or two ways, but sometimes the criticism is not necessarily a negative thing. Sometimes as a coach, as a manager you try to always get the best out of the players. Sometimes you have to give them a compliment, sometimes you also need to criticise.

“I appreciate the players have reacted in the right way, that’s the most important thing.”

Asked what has been difference in the players since the Arsenal loss, Zola responded: “I think, to put too much emphasis on that would be wrong. Before we saw also very good performances. Obviously yesterday was one of the top ones.

“We don’t question that these players can achieve peak performances, like they did yesterday. What we’re trying to achieve here is we want consistency in performances, because it’s the nature of the league. You can’t afford to play two games well and one game less good. The top teams are pushing. We need to keep the pace.”

Chelsea star Eden Hazard was also singled out for criticism before the Spurs game and he responded with a man of the match performance against Tottenham.

Asked if Hazard needs that sort of criticism at times, Zola responded: “I don’t know, honestly. I think I have an idea of Eden, but what he showed me yesterday is the reaction of a great player with great personality.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him until the end of the season and for more than that. It’s important that you react in that way. I was very impressed and pleased with Eden’s performance.”

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