Alarm bells rang yesterday morning when a newspaper article wrote of squad rotation at Chelsea and interviewed our manager. Benitez was quite open to the idea and stated that sometimes players needed to be rested. Five key players did not start (admittedly Cech was absent through injury). To leave Cole, Mata, Hazard and Ramires on the bench was quite baffling. If key players need to rest then they should not be in the squad at all. Peripheral participants should not start in an important league match and instead they should show their worth during forthcoming fixtures in the FA and League Cup.
To be fair we do have a light squad – no Mikel and Romeu does not help and up front Torres has no player to complement or pressure him. Although many lament the boos he receives from some of the crowd it was hardly his fault that Chelsea lost last night. Commentators will however argue that he should have done better when his only one-on-one was blasted straight at the ‘keeper.
We have dropped five points against QPR this season and it is simply not good enough. There were excuses at the away game with politics dominating, but at home last night the first half was one of the worst I have ever witnessed. Some of the shots from outside the box were simply embarrassing with Ivanovic one of the worst offenders.
The feng shui that we had under di Matteo is missing and the way Chelsea appear to be procrastinating on contract negotiations with arguably our greatest ever midfielder in Frank Lampard makes me feel uncomfortable. The Ba signing is baffling when we have Lukaku in reserve although I will not miss Sturridge and his general arrogance. Moses works hard but produces little.
It was a big victory for our rivals who mention our name in almost every song they sing – but Chelsea fans did not rise to the occasion with the atmosphere muted and return banter lacking. It is after games like yesterday that you question what difference Benitez will make compared to di Matteo over the course of the season. Odd player selections, players visibly angry on the pitch (Lampard in particular when substituted) and Marin lucky not to have received a red card in the opening minutes as the QPR player he fouled stood up sportingly and did not roll over five times as our rivals in the World Club Championship Final did.
It is absolutely vital that this club finishes in a Champions League position at the end of the season. Our priority should be the league but last night was the first time where the Spaniard’s experiments truly failed. Something is not right in the heart of the club at the moment and compared to our Manchester peers (who we still have to play away from home this season) we appear much weaker. Even worse, the defeat was mostly met by a passionless shrug of the shoulders and a slow shuffle home.