Roberto Di Matteo calms fears of winter blues hitting Chelsea again


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The Independent Football

Roberto Di Matteo swatted away suggestion Chelsea were set for another bout of the winter blues after their dramatic defeat to Manchester United.

The European champions' unbeaten start to the Barclays Premier League season went up in smoke in the most controversial manner imaginable yesterday when they lost 3-2 at Stamford Bridge.

They stayed top of the table by a single point from United and Manchester City, but their second defeat in a row after Tuesday's Champions League loss at Shakhtar Donetsk has sparked fears they could be set for another blip at a time of year where they traditionally struggle.

But manager Di Matteo gave short shrift to the prospect of that after watching his side come roaring back from 2-0 down yesterday before being wrongly reduced to nine men and beaten by an offside winner.

"I didn't see any struggle in our team," he said. "We know we have a good and strong team. We just have to ride this moment."

Chelsea's slump this time last year coincided with the John Terry racism saga and they became embroiled in fresh controversy yesterday when they made a formal complaint accusing referee Mark Clattenburg of using "inappropriate language" towards two of their players.

They must put that to one side quickly if they are to avenge their defeat in Wednesday's Capital One Cup clash against the same opponents.

Already shorn of Terry and Frank Lampard, they will go into the game without Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres, both of whom were sent off yesterday.

Di Matteo said: "We have to regroup.

"Obviously, we are going to have a few players missing. We played with nine men. We had a long trip to Ukraine.

"We will have to see how players are tomorrow and start again."

Di Matteo was still smarting about Clattenburg's decision to show Torres a second yellow card for diving and failure to disallow United's winner long after yesterday's match had finished.

The Torres incident prompted a furious touchline exchange between the respective coaching teams and Di Matteo said: "We are massively disappointed that these key decisions were wrong.

"It always seems to be in favour of the opposition. That's a massive disadvantage for us.

"I thought at 2-2 we looked like the team that were probably going to win the game.

"So it's a shame, because it was a good game of football with two good teams and the officials ruined it."

Ferguson taunted Torres about his sending-off, claiming the striker only had himself to blame.

Di Matteo said: "Listen, whatever he says, it was a foul in our favour."

He added of Clattenburg: "Surely when he's going to watch the images, he's going to realise that he made big mistakes."

The Italian was keen to play down his own spat with Ferguson, saying: "That's part of the game. Emotions run high and you say things."

Ivanovic was sent off shortly before Torres for a last-man challenge - a decision Di Matteo also branded "harsh".