Chelsea began the hugely important and potentially pivotal run of six games in 16 days in the worst way yesterday with defeat away to Southampton. Rafa Benitez made a number of changes to his starting line up, obviously with one eye on tomorrow’s FA cup replay against Manchester United. There would have been no problem if the Blues had won, but Benitez is now facing more anger from Chelsea fans who feel that he is prioritising winning a trophy to put on his c.v.
“We had to manage the squad,” said Benitez.
“We didn’t have many options in some positions. We had the players we had.
“You have to approach every game like it is the most important and we thought with these players we would be fine.
“I think you could see that in the first half we didn’t have the intensity we were expecting.
“We improved in the second half, made more chances, but still we didn’t make the right decisions in the final third.”
The Spaniard also pointed out that we still have a game in hand on Tottenham, and plenty of games left until the end of the season. We also have a game against Spurs and a better goal difference, which still makes us favourites to finish in the top four. The problem is that a defeat is not good for form and confidence.
If Chelsea beat Manchester United tomorrow in the FA cup, everything will look good again. If we go out however, the questions about whether Benitez should have played his very best team in the Premier League will resurface.