Football

Di Matteo: In it to win it

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Di Matteo defends Chelsea players. (©GettyImages)
Di Matteo defends Chelsea players. (©GettyImages).

Roberto Di Matteo has overseen a remarkable resurgence since he took temporary charge of Chelsea first-team affairs at the start of March, with the club still harbouring ambitions of an FA Cup and Champions League double this year.

Speaking after the Blues' frustrating 0-0 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, the Italian coach defended his tactics - which were perceived as negative - and hit back at unwarranted criticism of his players in recent weeks.

"Thank you very much. Thank you very much," Di Matteo is quoted by Sky Sports. "What can I say?

"From where I'm sitting, we are one point now behind Tottenham, in the final of the FA Cup and semi-final of the Champions League, and we seem to be the worst team in England, you know?

"That's what it feels like sometimes."

Regular accusations that have been directed towards some of Chelsea's old guard this season, is that those players are no longer up to the challenge of competing on both a domestic and European scale.

After making eight changes to the side that beat Barcelona 1-0 at Stamford Bridge last week, for Saturday's clash with the Gunners, Di Matteo categorically denied claims that the club is prepared to sacrifice a top-four spot in the Premier League.

"We are not sacrificing everything. I've always tried to select a team that is able to win the games," he added. "The regret is that we've lost many, many points before. [But] what we've been doing in the last six weeks, I think the points tally is very good.

"We're going to try until the last game and keep going until it's mathematically impossible for us. We've a crazy schedule as well, as you all know. So we're just going to keep going and, at the end, we'll see where we stand."

He added: "Our team has played the third game in less than six days. It's crazy.

"It's crazy the demand, physically and mentally on the players. It's enormous. I'm not sure people can actually visualise how much it is.

"It's tough and you could see towards the end some of our players were getting a little bit tired. It's just human. We have a good squad that allows us to compete and to challenge until the end for these competitions, and we are pleased with it.

"These players have been in this position probably many times before and under this kind of pressure and it doesn't really faze them too much."

Topics:
Football
Chelsea
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Roberto Di Matteo
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