Vil­las-boas plays down fa­tigue fears as Chelsea see red again

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - Sport football -

AN­DRE Vil­las-Boas is con­fi­dent Chelsea will not pay the price for play­ing for two gru­elling hours with 10 men in the past week when they visit Va­len­cia in the Cham­pi­ons League on Wed­nes­day.

The Blues will travel to Spain to­mor­row hav­ing spent 124 of their last 210 min­utes on the field with a man dis­ad­van­tage, hardly ideal prepa­ra­tion for what is ex­pected to be the tough­est of their Group E as­sign­ments.

Alex’s dis­missal in Wed­nes­day night’s Car­ling Cup penalty shootout win over Ful­ham and an in­jury to Daniel Stur­ridge forced man­ager Vil­las-Boas to in­tro­duce John Terry and Frank Lam­pard, who he had been hop­ing to rest.

That had a knock-on ef­fect for Satur­day’s 4-1 Bar­clays Premier League vic­tory over Swansea, with Petr Cech the only sur­vivor from the mid­week XI, while Lam­pard was left on the bench to demon­strate that, at 33, he is be­ing held back more and more for the big games.

Vil­las-Boas was clearly keen to avoid fur­ther fa­tigue but Fer­nando Tor­res put paid to that when he in­ex­pli­ca­bly lunged at Mark Gower 10 min­utes af­ter open­ing the scor­ing with a trade­mark fin­ish.

His man­ager played down the im­pact Chelsea’s re­cent in­dis­ci­pline might have at the Mestalla.

“It should be okay and noth­ing to worry about,” Vil­las-Boas said.

“It’s also early be­gin­nings in the league.”

Yet, the Por­tuguese con­ceded the im­por­tance of fresh­en­ing up his side. “I think the de­ci­sions were mainly based on the fact that we played 120 min­utes on Wed­nes­day,” he said.

“We sent nine play­ers fresh to the pitch that didn’t play on Wed­nes­day and I think this has an im­pact. It’s im­por­tant to have squad ro­ta­tion.”

Iron­i­cally, Spain striker Tor­res’s red card there­fore makes him more likely to start on Wed­nes­day as he only played 39 min­utes, was not in­volved at all against Ful­ham, and is now banned for the next three Premier League games.

So Di­dier Drogba’s re­turn from a sick­en­ing head in­jury could hardly be more timely, the Ivory Coast star com­ing off the bench to net Chelsea’s fourth goal and his first of the sea­son.

Vil­las-Boas said: “We have four won­der­ful strik­ers and all of them have been per­form­ing very, very well – Lukaku, Nico, Di­dier and Fer­nando.

“All of them com­pete for a place in this 4-3-3 that we priv­i­lege,” he said.

Tor­res’s goal came in be­tween two goals from Brazil­ian in­ter­na­tional Ramires which were fol­lowed by Ash­ley Wil­liams’s con­so­la­tion and that come­back goal for Drogba.

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