Antonio Conte dismisses accusations that he is over-working his players as he pointed the relatively low number of Chelsea players who are injured.
The Italian boss will also have a difficult selection during their Watford game tonight as Alvaro Morata will not be able to play and new signee Olivier Giroud is not yet ready.
Chelsea have four players out compared to the 19 Premier League clubs that have more absentees.
“If you compare to the other clubs, we have fewer injuries,” Conte argued.
“The only problem is that, this season, we are playing a lot and our squad wasn’t big enough to give them the right rest. We are working less, less than last season. A lot less.
“But, for sure, you have to change your plan, your work. When you play every three days, it’s impossible to give intensity in these two days between one game and another.
“Sometimes, when I had the possibility, I tried to give the opportunity… a little window of work for the players I decided to rest. But, in this country, with a lot of competitions – four competitions, and with the intensity of every game – you have to face a season with a big squad. This is very, very important.
“I think it’s very important to try to understand and find the best solution for the future.”
When asked how long it would take Chelsea back to the top as they are 18 points off Manchester City.
“I don’t know this. Also because you can see the other teams are working very hard, very strong to improve their squads. It’s not simple, not simple. I think a club like Chelsea must have more patience than other teams.
“If you compare it to the past, the situation has totally changed. Yes. But especially for this reason, you have to understand that only through great work, big work, can you go and try to be closer to these teams who maybe don’t have this type of financial problems.
“In this case, the value of the coach is important. We have a lot of young players. Our average age is very low now, don’t forget.
“Whoever knows football understands very well that, now, we need a lot of patience, to understand a new situation and not complain, but only be realistic. And be strong and to work, work, work. Only through work can you solve problems. Not by complaining or just by buying.”