Chelsea v Rubin Kazan: Victor Moses and Ryan Bertrand pass their auditions for roles in busy run-in

Chelsea win 3-1 in the Europa League

Squad rotation has become a very sensitive subject as far as Rafael Benitez is concerned during his tenure at Stamford Bridge.

Of all the subjects that appear to get under his skin, questioning his tendency to change the starting XI on a game-to-game basis upsets him the most.

Just ask the former Chelsea captain and assistant manager Ray Wilkins, whose opinion on the cause of Ashley Cole’s hamstring injury led the Spaniard to brand his comments worthy of an April fool.

As much as the club’s fans would argue to the contrary, the fault does not completely lie with Benitez for everything that has gone awry at Stamford Bridge. 

Look beyond the small collection of players that tend to hog the headlines, like Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, and the squad has been shown to lack in quality.

With Chelsea having a fixture schedule that would test the best in Europe, the fringe players are coming more and more under scrutiny.

If Chelsea are to successfully achieve their three targets of finishing in the top four, as well as winning the FA Cup and Europa League, then it will depend on their spare parts as much as the main engine room to deliver.

Significantly against Rubin Kazan last night, the number of fringe players Benitez picked was significantly fewer than he chose for the woeful Premier League defeat against Southampton just five days before.

Ryan Bertrand, Yossi Benayoun and Victor Moses all had a point to prove though against a Russian side boasting an unbeaten record in the competition away from home.

The focus was particularly on Bertrand due to Cole being ruled out for at least another couple of weeks, during which the club have key League games against Sunderland and Fulham and the FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City.

Bertrand’s fortunes have dipped since the dizzy heights of earning a Champions League winner’s medal on debut in last season’s final, with even some of the club’s fans questioning his future at the club. However, the 23-year-old ensured his more celebrated team-mate was barely missed both defensively and offensively.

Moses, who joined from Wigan for £9m last summer, has also found life at Chelsea a bit more difficult of late having initially enjoyed an impressive opening to his career in west London.

His departure for the African Cup of Nations upset his rhythm, yet the Nigerian international was looking much more like his old dynamic self, running at his opponents with purpose. There was a finely struck goal to show for his efforts too.

Only Benyaoun, as has been the case since he joined from Liverpool in 2010, failed his audition and was largely anonymous throughout, apart from one fancy flick in the build-up to Chelsea’s third.

Naturally, Benitez will continue to lean heavily on Cole, Mata, Hazard and Co, but at least in Bertrand and Moses he has players that he can turn to  during the challenges ahead.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power