Chelsea reaped the rewards of their Champions League exile last season, Cesc Fabregas has confided.
The Blues stormed to the Premier League title last term with the lack of European football helping them to focus on domestic duties. As well as success in the league they also reached the FA Cup final.
They return to Europe’s top competition this season and it has the potential to have a detrimental effect on their title defence.
Jamie Redknapp has revealed that during filming for A League Of Their Own he spoke to Fabregas, who was making an appearance on the TV show.
‘I did A League Of Their Own a few weeks ago and Cesc Fabregas came on; he was good to talk to but he was saying that you can’t underestimate how much better it was not playing in the Champions League,’ Redkapp revealed.
He added: ‘On one side, you miss those big nights, but it makes such a difference because you are playing Saturday-Saturday, or Saturday-Sunday and you are getting a lot of rest. Whereas Chelsea now won’t get any rest and that’s why they need to thicken the squad up as you need those extra players in there.’
In addition to returning to the Champions League, there are concerns at Chelsea that their squad is too thin.
Diego Costa is expected to leave while Nemanja Matic, John Terry and Nathan Ake have already gone. With a bunch of young players sent out on loan or sold as well, Antonio Conte’s side looks short.
Chelsea 2017/18 Fixtures
Burnley (H) – Sat Aug 12
Plymouth Argyle (A) – Tues Aug 15
Tottenham (A) – Sat Aug 20
Everton (H) – Sun Aug 27
Leicester City (A) – Sat Sep 9
Arsenal (H) – Sun Sep 17
Stoke City (A) – Sat Sep 23
Despite their problems, Redknapp told Sky Sports that Chelsea are still capable of winning the title this season.
‘After winning the league in two of the last three years, they’ve got to be up there, but the favourites are Manchester City. I don’t think there should be any difference between Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool – anyone can win it and I don’t think there’s an outstanding favourite.’
The Blues start their campaign at home to Burnley this weekend.