Roberto Di Matteo is playing down the importance of Chelsea’s position at the top of table as we head into the last league game for two weeks, at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
The win over Arsenal last Saturday was followed by a back-on-track European success to keep the season moving forward smoothly, but the manager points out that immediately prior to the previous international break came the Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid, and he calls for full focus against Norwich.
Daniel Sturridge is the only player unavailable to face the Canaries on Saturday afternoon.
Di Matteo reports that the game comes a couple of days too early for the striker who suffered a hamstring injury prior to the home game against Juventus on 19 September. He will be fit after the forthcoming international break.
John Terry is available with the manager explaining the captain’s absence from the midweek win in Denmark as a case of squad rotation.
‘Tomorrow is our seventh game in 21 days and we have a very good squad. I try to use the squad as much as I can and freshen up the team sometimes to give the level of energy we need for every game.
‘Every player wants to play every game but with the intensity and the tempo these days, it is very difficult for any player to play every game.’
With Sturridge out, Fernando Torres’s unbroken run of 11 games will continue against Norwich.
Di Matteo however is not currently factoring in the type of rest he recently gave to Juan Mata.
‘Torres is in good shape, he is very fit but certainly it is something we have to look at,’ he said of the demand on the Spaniard.
On Mata, who again is not being asked to play in the forthcoming internationals, he said:
‘I am very happy that he has responded so well. It was common sense and the way he is performing suggests it was very welcome by his body and his mind.’
On facing Norwich
With the league leaders playing the team third from bottom, Di Matteo is not concerned about complacency sneaking in, but he does have a warning.
‘Every time you play in the league after a Champions League game you have to be mentally focused on the game, and the last game before an international break was not good. So it is the mental aspect of it that is important.
‘We can be fairly pleased with our start and also the way we are playing but every game is a big challenge for us. Tomorrow is another big test and we will have to see if we can continue to play this kind of football and break the opposition down, create chances and win.’
On the FA’s written reasons for suspending John Terry
With the process not at an end with an appeal still possible, neither Roberto Di Matteo nor Chelsea Football Club are commenting on the subject yet, although the club has made the following statement regarding the FA report’s reference to our club secretary David Barnard and to Ashley Cole.
The statement reads:
‘David Barnard co-operated fully with the Football Association at all times, stands by his evidence and does not accept the criticism that has been made. It should be noted that David was not given the opportunity to give oral evidence to the commission and so any criticism is unjustified.
‘Ashley Cole cooperated at all times with the FA and stands by the evidence he gave and does not accept the criticism that has been made.’