Antonio Conte made a mistake at the weekend that his rivals managed to swerve, says Chelsea legend Pat Nevin.
The Blues manager oversaw a 2-1 defeat to bottom-of-the-league Crystal Palace in which not only the result was shocking, but the performance too.
Nevin believes Conte’s decision to start Willian was a contributing factor and that the forward should have been rested in light of his international exploits.
Rival managers Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger gave their players who had endured particularly gruelling travels a rest and Conte should have used the same tactic.
‘I suspect the international games had something to do with the weary looking performances for a few,’ Nevin said in his column for Chelseafc.com. ‘I have often explained that these internationals can be stressful enough, but when you add some extreme travelling and time-zone hopping on top, the effects are magnified substantially.
‘It was no great surprise to me when I heard that Arsene Wenger had left Alexis Sanchez out completely this weekend and Jurgen Klopp was substituting possible match-winners against Man United late on in their game on Saturday, because he feared they might pick up fatigue-induced injuries.
‘Willian looked particularly drained this week, but two internationals for Brazil in South America clearly took its toll.’
Nevin continued: ‘Yes, we know there are private planes nowadays but with adrenalin flowing and not wanting to resort to pills or bottles of wine, there is absolutely no certainty that your body will allow you to sleep even if you want to and are physically tired to boot. The brain can steal those hours of recovery whether you like it or not as it replays the matches and worries about anything and everything it sees fit to.’
Willian’s poor display continued a trend of below par performances this season that have seen the Brazilian come in for some criticism. Ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League tie with Roma this week the Brazilian appeared to hit back on social media.