Frank Lampard said he will be forced to heavily rotate his players as he slammed the Premier League for handing Chelsea two matches in 48 hours.
Fifth-place Chelsea travel to Arsenal on Saturday before they host Aston Villa on Monday, which Lampard claims is not a “fair playing field” compared to other teams’ schedules.
In contrast, Manchester United have three days between their next two games, while league-leaders Liverpool and sixth-place Tottenham have four days each.
To address this disparity, Lampard asked the Premier League to allow Chelsea and Villa another 24 hours’ rest after their Boxing Day fixtures – but his request was refused.
“It’s two games in two days, 48 hours,” said Lampard. “I’m not trying to be clever, it’s an important point for us because there are other teams that are challenging at the top of the league that play two games in three days.
” Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool play two games in three or four days. It’s counterproductive for the quality of the Premier League, it’s a risk for players if they are going to play both games at top-end elite sport, everybody knows that.
“And I know clearly what happened with this one as well; the game’s being broadcast live as they all are now. And we play Arsenal on Boxing Day, and our game with Man City now has been pushed to the Sunday (January 3).
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“So the schedule meant that we couldn’t play, and Aston Villa also wanted to play on the Tuesday, they wanted an extra day, and so did we. But we got overruled by both the Premier League and the broadcasters.
“I know in conjunction with each other, and this was bounced around, it got decided that we play twice in 48 hours when other teams that are challenging at the top of the league play twice in three days.
“I don’t see how it’s a fair playing field, I think it’s wrong and it’s not going to be the best for the players that play at the top level. Don’t get me wrong, Aston Villa have the same problem. Us playing them, we’ll both have the same problems.
Are Chelsea at a disadvantage because of their fixture schedule? Have your say here.
“But I’m just saying we are not getting the same rest period that other teams are getting. It’s not good even for the players to go out and train let alone play to a high level of 90 minutes. Everybody in the Premier League knows that.”
The Blues are missing key personnel for the trip to the Emirates including midfielder Hakim Ziyech and full-backs Ben Chilwell and Reece James.
And Lampard confirmed his already-depleted squad will need to be carefully managed over the coming days, adding: “The broadcasters are looking for the best product, so yeah, I will have to rotate players. I’ll have to see off the back of Arsenal where players are; every individual is different.
“Christmas is normally the hectic time but the hectic time has been throughout this season and I understand it. So every little win you can get by using common sense to put a game that could be broadcast on a day to push it one day and broadcast it on another day, take those small wins to try to help player welfare.
“That’s how I see it. This situation, 26th and 28th for us, when others are not, it’s compromising the players if they are going to play those two games, and some may have to. I think it also compromises the competition because others don’t have to do the same, and it’s clear that it’s not ample recovery time for top-level footballers.
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