If we learned one thing from Chelsea’s defeat at Southampton on Saturday, it’s this: the Blues squad is not currently strong enough to challenge effectively on three fronts at this late stage of the season, when games come thick and fast.
It’s a fair guess that Rafa Benitez spent the international break playing around with his tactics board, trying to work out the best Chelsea XI to field in each of the four games the Blues had coming up in the nine days after the players returned to Stamford Bridge.
Like a gambler in a Las Vegas casino backing a weak poker hand with big money, Benitez tried to pull off an odds-against victory at St Mary’s by putting out a side lacking a number of first-team regulars.
As we all know, the gamble didn’t come off, with the Blues going down to a dismal defeat against a side they had hammered 5-1 at the same venue in the FA Cup back in January.
The result knocked Chelsea down to fourth in the Premier League, and they are now only two points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal in the race for a Champions League slot.
For more thoughts on how that race is likely to unfold, and further observations about the game against the Saints, please flick through the slideshow.