One of the reasons Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes his side were so lacklustre during their 1-0 defeat to West Ham on Saturday was due to tiredness.
In fact, this will come as no surprise to anybody who has seen his press conferences in recent weeks. The Italian coach has been consistently complaining about his sides hectic fixture schedule.
While Conte certainly has a point, and it is true that the Premier League really should start making more of a effort to facilitate extra rest for its teams that compete in European Competition, as most other major European leagues do, the question is: has his repeated suggestions of fatigue actually effected his players state of mind ?
In recent years, the psychology of belief, has been proven to play a major part in sport and you have to wonder whether Conte repeatedly telling everybody that his players were tired before the clash at the London Stadium actually effected them subconsciously.
It’s not to say that players are actively looking for an excuse, but as many studies have shown if you consistently suggest that somebody should do or feel a certain way the likelihood of it becoming a reality increase.
The Italian coach is certainly not the first top-flight manager to complain about fixture congestion, although you have to think that perhaps making these complaints directly to the Premier League, and not to the press is a better course of action.
Chelsea went into Saturday’s game looking jaded and off the pace from the very first minute, but at the same time they knew they had the chance to possibly gain points on at least one of the Manchester clubs against a team struggling in the relegation zone, surely they should have been more switched on from the start.
It could well be that as soon as several of The Blues players started to feel any aches and pains, instead of just deciding to push through the pain barrier they subconsciously put it down to the fatigue their manager has been telling us all that they are about to start suffering from sooner or later.
In all honesty, it seems that Chelsea’s main problem is their lack of strength in depth as the amount of games they have to play are simply the way it is for a team competing in the Champions League.
The real problem, and this is why Conte was left furious during the summer, is that the Stamford Bridge club did not add enough quality to their squad during the last transfer window.
The former Juventus coach was angered by his clubs inability to sign his first-choice targets and as Davide Zappacosta and Tiémoué Bakayoko put in sub-standard displays this weekend, it is easy to see why he was so frustrated.
Last year Chelsea built their title challenge on using the same core of 13 players and playing on average, just one game a week.
Now of course with the extra pressure of Champions League football they are struggling to perform consistently and have won just two of the six fixtures they have played on the weekend after Champions League week.