- Premier League
Benitez: Mata was rested, not injured
Rafael Benitez confirmed Juan Mata was benched as part of a squad rotation system for Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Fulham, which left Chelsea seven points off leaders Manchester United.
Benitez preferred the more defensive Ryan Bertrand to Mata at Stamford Bridge, despite the Spaniard scoring seven goals in all competitions this season. The outcome was a second consecutive goalless draw for Chelsea, which was roundly booed at full-time.
The interim boss was asked in his post-match interview if Mata had been carrying any type of knock, but Benitez explained that he left the former Valencia man on the bench to rest him for a forthcoming encounter with West Ham.
"We have too many games in a few days, so it was just a decision to use the squad," Benitez told Sky Sports News.
Asked if the use of Bertrand was aimed at keeping things tight in the first half, Benitez responded: "Not really! The idea was to play like in the second half, to go forward and play quickly with the offensive players we have.
"We need to try to keep the team well organised and improve the attack. We have to create more chances, sustain attack and control the game.
"It's not easy to say how long [it will take] but hopefully the next game will be better."
John Arne Riise arguably had the game's two best chances for Fulham, in a game that produced little else in terms of excitement. However, Benitez was adamant Chelsea deserved to win.
"I think so, especially second half, we had our chances against a team that was well organised and had plenty of players behind the ball. They had two chances, we made mistakes to stop the counter attack, but we were on top of them."