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Can we shut up about the 'congested fixture list', please?

Know what was harder than this year? Last year
Know what was harder than this year? Last year
David Ramos

'Congested fixture list' is quite probably the single most annoying phrase we've had to deal with this year. Yes, thanks to playing in the Europa League, the Super Cup, the Club World Cup and deep runs in the domestic competitions, Chelsea played more matches in the 2012/13 season than ever before. That's a good excuse for fatigue; the team was playing multiple games a week, every week.

But... this is Chelsea Football Club. Has nobody noticed that we always play a lot of games?

Here's a fun stat: From January 2013 to May 2013, Chelsea played a grand total of four games more than they did in the equivalent period in 2012*. Go count them. I'm not joking. The League Cup semifinals are two, a fourth round FA Cup replay against Brentford is another and the Europa League tie against Sparta Prague gives us two more (the 2012 edition of Chelsea had to play an FA Cup final against Liverpool).

*For the whole season it's eight games, of which four are essentially friendlies.

And there's an argument to be made that Chelsea actually had a more difficult schedule last season -- there were actually four more matches against elite opponents in 2012, because of the Champions League run. So while we should have some sympathy for the fixtures coming thick and fast this year, we never had anything like a run of Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona, Arsenal and then Barcelona again to worry about. There's only so many times I can hear 'congested fixture list' as evidence that the season should be regarded as a success before I go totally insane.

Last season we successfully dealt with a more difficult schedule by effective prioritisation. Roberto di Matteo punted the Premier League to stay fresh for the cup competitions. It was a ballsy and perhaps borderline insane manoeuver, but it paid off. This year? We (by which I mean the press) whined about it nonstop.

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