Mauricio Pochettino called on the Premier League to reassess the way it schedules fixtures over the Christmas period to even out the time that teams have to recover.
Chelsea face Wolves at Molineux on Christmas Eve before welcoming Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge three days later.
Palace, by contrast, will have had double the recovery time having most recently played six days earlier on December 21 against Brighton.
Two more sleeps ‘til Christmas, one more ‘til Wolves! See you tomorrow, Blues! pic.twitter.com/XPZxxIe4o2
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 23, 2023
Gary O’Neil’s side will also have enjoyed two extra recovery days compared with Pochettino’s team, with Chelsea having been in action against Newcastle in their Carabao Cup quarter-final on Tuesday.
The Blues will have played a total of eight games in December by the time they sign off 2023 with a game away at Luton on December 30.
Pochettino was asked whether he believed too much was expected of players over the festive period, but insisted that his priority was every team being given equitable time to recover between fixtures.
“The problem is the difference between the teams,” he said. “If we all play on the 24th or we all play on the 27th, we are in the same circumstance.
“But the problem is that one plays (on the 21st) another on the 27th. That is a big disadvantage or advantage. But I don’t complain.
“The problem is to organise the situation better, because it’s not fair. It’s not to make an excuse, not to open the umbrella before the rain.
“But come on, it’s a fact. It’s the reality.”
The manager reiterated his call for patience with summer signing Christopher Nkunku after he made a long-awaited debut during Tuesday’s quarter-final win.
The 26-year-old performed well on Chelsea’s pre-season United States tour before picking up a knee injury which required surgery.
Since then, the team have signed Cole Palmer from Manchester City, who can occupy similar positions in the final third of the pitch as Nkunku, whilst Pochettino has also gained more of a sense of his favoured starting XI and style.
“I don’t see him in a different way, only that after his injury he is a different player than before, because of the form today,” said the manager.
“Maybe in some positions it’s going to be tough for him to cope with the demands. You will see in the future.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 20, 2023
“I’m not going to put pressure on him. I’m so happy that he made his debut against Newcastle. We’re going to push him, to help him to perform better every day.
“He needs to be clever also to understand that he needs to push himself. He needs to make a double effort, double in everything. He needs to make an impact.
“In the long term, he’s going to be important for the club and for the team.”