• Premier League

Di Matteo: Off-pitch issues not a distraction

ESPN staff
November 4, 2012
Roberto Di Matteo insists his players are not distracted by off-field issues © PA Photos

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo does not believe the Mark Clattenburg affair had an effect on his side's performance in their 1-1 draw with Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.

Pablo Hernandez's late equaliser saw the Blues surrender top spot to Manchester United, but Di Matteo blamed Chelsea's failure to win on tough back-to-back matches against Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

He said: "I wouldn't read anything into what has happened in the last week and the result today. It is very difficult to win away from home in the Premier League.

"This is our second away draw of the season - we have won the rest of the games. It is disappointing not to have hung on to our lead but even when you are not brilliant, you need to get a result like that.

"It's a long season and it is going to stay very tight at the top. There are a few teams fighting for that. We are in touch and we are going to show how strong we are in the future.

"Talking about the football is how it's supposed to be week in, week out. Everyone would like it to be this way, including me. I've got to say the officials were very good. Kevin Friend did very well in the game to keep both teams calm and let the game flow.

"He didn't have any influence on the game. I congratulated him after the game because they were very good. I didn't speak to the players before the game about the referee. Generally our team is very good (with officials). There has to be something really out of the ordinary for them to react. In general, we are a fair team.

But Di Matteo did acknowledge the two thrilling clashes with Manchester United - the league fixture was followed by the nine-goal Capital One Cup tie in midweek - may have hurt his side.

He said: "We have certainly felt (tired) this week after the two games with Manchester United, including extra-time. It would have been great to finish off the week with a 1-0 victory. The disappointment is we have conceded a late equaliser.

"I thought we had more of the game and clear chances than Swansea. When the opposition equalises so late on then you tend to think it's a bit lucky. To be honest, they didn't have any real clear chances, but they scored a quality goal."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.