This note isn't at all relevant to today's match-up but I saw a very interesting theory put forth by Football365's Matt Stanger in this week's Winners And Losers column. If you scroll down to the "Losers" section (remember this is for Premier League action, not the FA Cup win this morning) then you'll find this:
The worry before that point for Chelsea supporters is that Benitez would be willing to sacrifice a top-four spot for silverware. Arsene Wenger may claim that fourth place is a trophy, but a one-off success doesn't glisten as brightly on a manager's CV as a Europa League triumph or perhaps even an FA Cup victory. For Benitez, the best way to put himself in the shop window is to pick up a trophy, and after four turbulent months at Stamford Bridge the manager will no doubt put his own desires ahead of the fans.
The implication of this statement is that while Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea supporters, and (presumably) Chelsea ownership/upper management are prioritizing Champions League spots over just about anything else at this point in the season Rafa Benetiz's personal motivation is to make his resume look as good as possible for his next job. That, in Mr. Stanger's mind, means prioritizing silverware (FA Cup and Europa League) over matches like this past weekend's disaster against Southampton. I don't know if this sentiment has any merit or not but it would go a long way in explaining why Chelsea fielded a significantly weakened team in a critical match in the league while going all-out against United this morning. A few implications if this is indeed true:
- Arsenal will presumably make the Top 4 given their upcoming schedule
- The upcoming Chelsea vs. Spurs match will be HUGE and by this logic Chelsea might not field their best team for it
- If Chelsea don't make the Champions League do they lose out on the chance to recruit someone like Falcao over the summer?
In any event, here are today's match-ups:
QPR: Cesar, Bosingwa, Samba, Hill, Traore, Mbia, Townsend, Jenas, Remy, Taarabt, Zamora.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Riether, Senderos, Hangeland (c), Riise; Dejagah, Sidwell, Karagounis, Duff; Ruiz, Berbatov