With both Premiership and Champions league fixtures coming in thick and fast, most top clubs around Europe are careful not to exhaust their players by playing them in midweek and immediately again at weekends. Clubs with a robust budget usually acquire depth players to fill the roster, in other to be provided with security when a first team player needs a bit of rest.
One problem that spending on depth might cause, is the fact that many players who are purchased with a secondary role in mind are usually not good enough to fill in, when any of the original eleven can’t play. If a substitute represents an enormous drop in quality, then the team will do badly when he plays.
One team that obviously doesn’t have this problem is Chelsea, who has managed to acquire good quality depth. This is sure to come in handy on Wednesday night as they face Schalke 04 in the Champions League.
Wednesday’s clash is crucial, not because Schalke will present that big of a problem, but because the Blues have a title defining clash against Manchester City on Sunday. If Chelsea were to lose any of its key players to injury, then the match against City may tilt towards the noisy neighbours.
Jose Mourinho has the luxury of preserving his key players by replacing them with other capable members of the team. We will first identify the players that the Chelsea boss needs to rest for the match against Manchester City.
Diego Costa has netted seven goals thus far including a hat trick in the last game against Swansea. Cesc Fabregas has assisted six times for the blues, while Ivanovic despite being a right back has also scored twice and assisted once.
Either Loic Remy or Drogba can replace Costa, while Filipe Luis can take Ivanovic’s place. Cesc Fabregas on the other hand has multiple deputies in Willian who can replace him in the No. 10 role, and Mikel who can fill in for him in the pivot.
Petr Cech, one of the best goal-keepers in the world can fill in for Courtios, and even Kurt Zouma can give ‘old man’ Terry a rest.
If Chelsea’s starting eleven were to be rotated for Wednesday’s match against Schalke, it would look like this;
Cech, Cahill, Zouma, F.Luis, Azpilicueta, Mikel, Ramires, Willian, Salah, Schurrie, Drogba.
The above team in my opinion isn’t any worse than the team that played Bayern in the Champions League final in 2012. That team had the likes of Kalou and Betrand playing both wings and the aging Lampard pairing with Mikel in the pivot.
Although Chelsea risk losing the match if they play with a weakened side, the injury stricken Schalke 04 side, who have also just lost their captain Howedes to injury today, won’t pull an upset.
It is my opinion that Chelsea have a lot to gain and very little to lose. You can always come back from a first game defeat in the Champions League (they did it just last year) but a loss to your closest rival for the league title, has both psychological and table defining effects.