Chelsea cannot afford to rotate their side against Southampton

An excellent win at Stoke got their Premier League campaign back on track, but it would be unwise for Rafa Benitez to rotate his side again on Wednesday, even with the match against Arsenal coming up at the weekend.

It's very much been all or nothing for Rafa Benitez so far at Chelsea, with his side recording several big wins including an astonishing 8-0 demolition of Aston Villa, but also succumbing to equally unlikely losses like the 1-0 home defeat to QPR.

That loss at Stamford Bridge was followed by Swansea's 2-0 win there in the Capital One Cup semi-final, and Chelsea fans are now heading to their ground full of trepidation rather than confident of recording wins. With that in mind, it's absolutely vital to Chelsea that they pick up three points against Southampton on Wednesday evening, with their home form threatening to derail their entire season.

Benitez has only won two matches at home in his time at Chelsea, the 8-0 win over Aston Villa, and the ultimately fruitless 6-1 win over Nordsjaelland.

Whilst they have won impressively away at Stoke, Everton and Norwich, they have failed to even score in home games against Fulham, Swansea and QPR. The toxic atmosphere that currently exists between Chelsea fans and their unwanted manager might well not be helping, but Benitez continuing insistence to rotate his side is also causing problems.

Chelsea will likely have a long season ahead of them, and players like Juan Mata cannot be expected to play every minute of it, but right now Chelsea have to address their issues at home, or they will have plenty of fresh players but nothing to compete for come May.

Also the best way to address the negative atmosphere at Stamford Bridge is to win more matches there, and this is most likely to be achieved if Benitez plays his strongest team.

Chelsea should be able to win matches against relegation threatened sides at home even whilst rotating players, but as they are not they have to play their strongest team.

If they can recover their form, it will be easier to then rotate players into a winning team, rather than plunging players into an anxious Stamford Bridge ready to turn on their manager.

images: © Tom Cuppens, © Ronnie Macdonald

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