Di Matteo ready to ring changes against Fulham
Roberto di Matteo hopes his Chelsea side will have shaken off their Champions League hangover when they face west London rivals Fulham on Monday.
The Blues manager admitted his side were not at their best as they scraped their way to a controversial 2-1 win over Wigan on Saturday, three days after a victory over Benfica that set up a Champions League semi-final with Barcelona.
Juan Mata's added time winner secured the points, but Branislav Ivanovic's opening goal sparked an angry reaction from Wigan manager Roberto Martinez who was convinced it should have been ruled out for offside.
The win allowed Chelsea to gain ground on the top four, but di Matteo admitted there was plenty of room for improvement when they return to action at Craven Cottage on Monday.
"After you play a midweek game in the Champions League, there's always a concern that you might have a little hangover for the weekend game," said former Chelsea midfielder di Matteo.
"It's something that all the clubs involved in the Champions League have to deal with," added the Italian, put in caretaker charge of the Stamford Bridge side following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.
"And even though I tried to make a number of changes to energise the team, I think in the first half we didn't really get into the game. The tempo was slow and the intensity was low."
Di Matteo acknowledged that with his team fighting on three fronts -- they are also in the FA Cup semi-finals -- every game carries an added intensity.
"Every game that we play, it's like, 'You need to win today'.
"We are in a position that we have to win and we are pleased that we got the three points today, even though you'd say it wasn't a sparkling performance," di Matteo added.
"But I think that also shows the strength of the team. I'm sure that you would agree that the teams that win the league or the title don't always put in a sparkling performance."
Defeat left the visitors in the relegation zone and an angry Martinez said: "The linesman had a disgusting performance. Today, my players were robbed and they now have a disgusting feeling they don't deserve."
Di Matteo made seven changes and will rotate his squad once again for the Fulham clash.
John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole missed the Wigan game because of injury while Ramires was ruled out because of illness.
And the caretaker manager said: "We'll assess them tomorrow (Sunday) morning. We'll assess the whole squad and also the guys that were injured and ill like Ramires.
"We'll try our best managing it and using all the players that we have to try to win these games.
"I think the players have accepted the fact that we are a team, a group, and the spirit of this group is very strong, I think they realise as well that everybody's needed to achieve targets -- and that's the only way.
"We cannot just play with 11 players -- we need the whole squad, 25 that we have to be able to come through."
Fulham face their near neighbours on the back of a convincing 3-0 win at Bolton that keeps them in the top half of the table.
Clint Dempsey scored twice, throwing fresh focus on his continuing contract negotiations and manager Martin Jol reiterated his desire to keep the United States international.
"I can't foresee the future," said Jol. "We want to keep him and hopefully he wants to stay.
"We have offered him a very good contract so he knows that he is very appreciated at our club and hopefully he will stay."