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By Harry Kemble
Friday, January 4, 2013
Chelsea’s Rafa Benitez dismissed criticism about his team selection in the 1-0 west London derby loss to QPR.
The Blues’ four-match winning run was dramatically ended on Wednesday by the R’s dogged performance with Benitez being panned for resting Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.
The defeat leaves Chelsea out of the title race with a 14-point gap to make up on Manchester United, yet Benitez pointed to how the team were lauded in previous weeks for bringing in squad players into a winning side.
“Rotating in the past a few years ago or in the last two weeks? Because we were winning games recently and everyone was praising us,” said the interim boss.
“You (the media) were saying that we were doing well and winning games in the last few games. You cannot be criticised and praised for the same thing.
Chelsea played nine games in December, which included a 6,000-mile return trip to Japan for the Fifa World Club Cup.
And with a relatively small squad that includes just one frontline striker in Fernando Torres, the former Inter Milan manager has been forced to frequently change his team.
“We are rotating the players because we have so many games,” added Benitez. “We have ambitions but we also have professionalism. We know and trust our players.”
The Blues play Southampton in the FA Cup this weekend with new signing Demba Ba available for domestic competitions – although the Senegalese forward is cup-tied for the Europa League.
And Benitez insists once again he will rotate his team if he feels it is best option.
“My strongest team maybe for some people are the big names but for me it is how each player is fitness wise leading up to game,” he said.
“All of the games are very important for us.”