Roberto di Matteo hopes his Chelsea side will shake off their Champions League hangover when they face west London rivals Fulham today.
The Blues manager admitted his side was not at its best as they scraped their way to a controversial 2-1 win over Wigan on Saturday, three days after a victory over Benfica that set up a Champions League semi-final with Barcelona.
Juan Mata’s added time winner secured the points, but Branislav Ivanovic’s opening goal sparked an angry reaction from Wigan manager Roberto Martinez who was convinced it should have been ruled out for offside.
The win allowed Chelsea to gain ground on the top four, but di Matteo admitted there was plenty of room for improvement when they return to action at Craven Cottage. “After you play a midweek game in the Champions League, there’s always a concern that you might have a little hangover for the weekend game,” said former Chelsea midfielder di Matteo. “It’s something that all the clubs involved in the Champions League have to deal with,” added the Italian, put in caretaker charge of the Stamford Bridge side following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas. “And even though I tried to make a number of changes to energise the team, I think in the first half we didn’t really get into the game. The tempo was slow and the intensity was low.”
Di Matteo acknowledged that with his team fighting on three fronts -- they are also in the FA Cup semi-finals -- every game carries an added intensity. “Every game that we play, it’s like, ‘You need to win’. We are in a position that we have to win and we are pleased that we got the three points, even though you’d say it wasn’t a sparkling performance,” di Matteo added.