fast little loans
London – Chelsea face the daunting prospect of three games in six days over Easter – and Rafa Benitez reckons he’ll get the blame for it.
Manchester United and Chelsea’s FA Cup quarterfinal replay has been confirmed for Easter Monday, April 1, at 2.30pm.
It means the Blues’ Barclays Premier League clash against Southampton, scheduled for Easter Sunday, has been moved back a day to Saturday, March 30, at 5pm.
Chelsea will now, at the very least, be forced to play twice in 48 hours, as will United, who face Sunderland on the Saturday lunchtime.
Chelsea must also play in a Europa League quarter-final first leg on Thursday, April 4, if they overcome Steaua Bucharest tonight.
And speaking ahead of the second-leg clash, where Chelsea will try to overcome a 1-0 deficit, Benitez managed to see the funny side of the pending fixture pile-up.
“I concentrate on my job and try to do my best to prepare the team for every competition,” he said. “Maybe somebody else will blame me (for the fixtures), they will say it’s my fault, because everything is my fault.
“If something is wrong some people want to blame me. I have to manage this, too.”
Given their participation in two cup competitions Chelsea, who could play 70 games this season, were always likely to face fixture issues and were taking a relaxed view of the rescheduling yesterday.
However, Southampton were not quite so understanding after being informed of the decision to move their game against Chelsea.
The match had already been rescheduled once so it could be televised on Sky Sports. The new date means the clash will no longer be televised.
The scheduling decision could cost the Saints a minimum of £470,000 in TV revenue, with chiefs at the south-coast club outraged.
A Southampton statement said: “The game had already been moved once... the club is extremely disappointed that this decision has been taken, not least because of the significant inconvenience a second change... will cause our supporters.”
Chelsea sit fourth, five points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal. They will hope to consolidate that through the busy Easter period, and winning the FA Cup and Europa League could help Benitez win over fans who have protested against him since his appointment.
Thankfully for Benitez, one thing he does not have to manage is a lengthy injury list, with long-term absentee Oriol Romeu and cup-tied Demba Ba the only players unavailable tonight. – Daily Mail