Belfast Telegraph

Relentless Chelsea relish Spanish test

Andre Villas-Boas is confident Chelsea will not pay the price for playing for two gruelling hours with 10 men in the past week when they visit Valencia in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The Blues will travel to Spain on Tuesday having spent 124 of their last 210 minutes on the field with a man disadvantage, hardly ideal preparation for what is expected to be the toughest of their Group E assignments.

Alex's dismissal in Wednesday night's Carling Cup penalty shootout win over Fulham and an injury to Daniel Sturridge forced manager Villas-Boas to introduce John Terry and Frank Lampard, who he had been hoping to rest.

That had a knock-on effect for Saturday's 4-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Swansea, with Petr Cech the only survivor from the midweek XI, while Lampard was left on the bench to demonstrate that, at 33, he is being held back more and more for the big games.

Villas-Boas was clearly keen to avoid further fatigue but Fernando Torres put paid to that when he inexplicably lunged at Mark Gower 10 minutes after opening the scoring with a trademark finish.

His manager played down the impact Chelsea's recent indiscipline might have at the Mestalla.

"It should be okay and nothing to worry about," Villas-Boas said.

"It's also early beginnings in the league."

Ironically, Torres' red card therefore makes him more likely to start on Wednesday as he only played 39 minutes yesterday, was not involved at all against Fulham, and is now banned for the next three Premier League games.

Belfast Telegraph

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