The excuse-making without making excuses continues and the culprit is once again fatigue as we hear another participant reflect on the 1-0 loss to Manchester City over the weekend. While most observers and pundits have held up City’s win as their statement of intent similar to the one Chelsea made just 72 hours prior in Madrid — and solidifying Guardiola’s men as title favorites of Jose Mourinho’s — the feeling at Chelsea appears to be that were it not for the short recovery window, we would’ve done much better.
“The truth is we knew it would be a difficult week, starting with the trip to Stoke last Saturday which as we know is always a complicated task. Then there was the trip to Atletico Madrid, arriving back early the next morning at 5am on Thursday, with practically only one day to prepare for the match.
“We faced a City team who came well prepared. They had home games and one extra day of rest. We are making no excuses but it was a difficult week and we have competed. We gave it everything and could not have done anything more.
“They are a great team. We know that. They had won their last two games, much in the same manner that we did, so congratulations to them. This was without a doubt the same Chelsea of last season, but what happened was that we came up against a City side who went into the game much better rested than we did. Nothing more.”
While we can make an argument for the need to present a unified and bland front to the media and public — Fabregas is just the latest participant to frame Saturday’s loss in this way after Conte, Cahill, and others — hopefully behind the scenes there is some recognition that mistakes were made in team selection, execution, and strategy. Fabregas, for example, didn’t exactly cover himself in glory with his skillset wasted for much of the game and being partly culpable for leaving De Bruyne wide open for his winning shot. Fabregas was making his second start in four days and sixth in three weeks; Kante his third in a week; Bakayoko his fourth straight — so much for squad management/depth and rotation!
Lessons must be learned. We cannot just shrug our shoulders and chalk it up to fatigue, especially with October promising to be just as busy as September, after which the usual winter madness of the Premier League will truly set in.
“This time last year we were eight points behind, but it doesn’t mean anything. There is still a long way to go in all competitions.”
-Cesc Fabregas; source: Chelsea FC