Tepid. Timid. Turgid. Tired. Saturday was a good day for page T of the thesaurus. It was less good for Chelsea.
Post-match, Jose Mourinho's word were familiar. No, not the words about character. The ones about fatigue:
"Today was also clear there was a different freshness between the teams, one team played a few days ago and another team played last week and had one week without competitive football. It was easy to see the difference."
-Jose Mourinho; source: Chelsea FC
So that's all well and good. Except, well, umm, you know Jose, YOU'RE the one picking the team. YOU'RE the one picking essentially the same lineup for the third match in eight days. YOU'RE the one insisting on the same selection which produced a flat performance just a few days ago.
What were you honestly expecting? We all knew what to expect. Blaming fatigue afterwards is disingenuous at best, and makes you look like a silly fool at worst when you have a full squad (outside of John Terry and Marco van Ginkel) available to you, many of whom have been sitting on their hands just waiting for an opportunity to prove themselves in a match situation.
Dear Jose: meet Andre Schurrle. And Mohamed Salah. And Tomas Kalas. And Nathan Ake. Remember Ashley Cole? Remember Frank Lampard? Yes, we know they're not your first choice. But the FA Cup isn't and shouldn't be our first priority at this point.
This isn't the first time Mourinho's made a selection mistake. It probably won't be the last, though it may be hard to supersede this one in terms of obvious predictability. Previously, he's owned up to selection mistakes (see Aston Villa (H), Newcastle (A) for two examples), but lately his public response has been more on Interim excuse than Special magician level.
I'm sure some will chime in with talk of favorites at this point, though I think it has far more to do with stubbornness or perhaps even impossibly high expectations of a few players. Regardless, figure it out. Please. For after a week's rest, we have a tough home match, and even tougher away Champions League match, and a local derby away at Fulham in the space of eight days. Knowingly rolling with a fatigued team and then using that as an excuse for a bad performance simply won't do.