Chelsea forward Diego Costa has revealed his belief that an overload of fixtures cost the Blues their place in the Champions League, having been knocked out of the competition by Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month.
Jose Mourinho has been the subject of some criticism recently for his refusal to open up to mass squad rotation, with The Special One generally relying on a core of first-team players to see him through. Indeed it would appear that they have been feeling the toll from competing across the board in major competitions of late, as their performances have waned since the turn of the New Year.
Chelsea's changing form
At the beginning of the season Chelsea were having comparisons drawn with Arsenal’s famous Invincibles of 2004, and their incredible start to the campaign saw them being touted as potential treble winners.
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However in recent months they’ve somewhat fallen off of the wagon, first being knocked out of the FA Cup by lowly Bradford City, and then being dumped out of the Champions League virtue of the away goals rule.
Costa, though keen to make no excuses, has offered - as relayed by Goal - that perhaps the heavy fixture list is to blame.
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“Maybe the Christmas exertions have taken their toll," Costa is said to have told Spanish mouthpiece Marca.
"We played three matches in seven days. It’s no excuse though. I’m sure next season we’ll go further in the Champions League.”
Of course the 26-year-old himself might well be feeling the strain, with his form in front of goal having taken a knock after hitting the ground running. Costa has 19 Premier League goals this term to speak of, though none in any other competition, and injuries have appeared to hamper him in recent showings.
On top of that there was more bad news to be taken amidst the current international break, as the Spanish Football Federation earlier this week confirmed that Costa would be returning to Stamford Bridge to try and recover from a level one hamstring tear. The issue will be foremost in Mourinho’s mind considering they face the prospect of playing Arsenal and Manchester United in the next few weeks.
Need for rotation?
From the outside looking in it seems as though Mourinho will have no choice but to rotate if he wants to ensure Chelsea finish the season as league champions. The Blues’ strength in depth is matched only by City in terms of quality, and fans are right to be perplexed as to why certain members of the squad haven’t had more of a look in.
Chelsea fans, do you think Mourinho should be rotating more next season in all competitions? Or is he right to try and pick his favoured XI whenever possible? Let us know what you think on the matter in the comments box below...