Rafa Benitez confirmed on Wednesday in his pre-match press conference that veterans Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic would be rested for Chelsea's Europa League tie with Sparta Prague.
With a view towards Chelsea’s crucial away trip to the Etihad Stadium to play Manchester City on Sunday, manager Rafa Benitez has elected to rest Lampard and Ivanovic for Thursday’s game with Sparta.
Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu will also be absent for the arrival of the Czech side through injury.
"Frank has been playing a lot of games,” Benitez told reporters. “It's important to be fit, it's important to train properly and it's important to adapt so I have to manage the squad.”
Benitez has never been a man to avoid squad rotation and as Chelsea have played 25 games in just under three months, resting two of his more experienced players for Thursday night’s game seems a solid choice.
Chelsea’s recent languishing in the Premier League, three wins from seven, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton are all hot on Chelsea's heels in 3rd place.
Points are hard to come by when visiting the Etihad Stadium but it will be crucial for Chelsea if they want to maintain the gap between them and the tussle for 4th place.
While it is important that Chelsea’s stars avoid burnout, the schedule does not get any easier for the West London club.
An FA Cup tie away to Middlesbrough next week, three London derbies, trips to Anfield and Old Trafford and a season ending clash with Everton all mean that Chelsea will be facing a tough stretch to secure Champions League football.
If Chelsea’s triumph over Bayern Munich last May was branded lucky by reporters then securing European football against the best the continent has to offer in 2013-14 will be anything but. Chelsea will need to be resilient and will certainly have to fight through injuries and fatigue if they don’t want to be playing on Thursdays next season.
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