FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: LEVELS LOW
Having watched the final one of the four games over the crowded holiday period prove to be a test too far for his squad, Rafael Benitez said that even with the systematic team rotation he has deployed in recent weeks, tiredness may have played a part in the defeat by QPR.
Chelsea came in to the game off the back of four Premier League victories but Shaun Wright-Phillips's late goal inflicted the first league loss at home to the team from Loftus Road since Easter 1983, and although we did have chances to score in the game, the clear openings created in recent weeks were in short supply.
Benitez changed one member of his defence for the match, bringing in Ryan Bertrand for Ashley Cole. A goalkeeper switch was forced on him by injury and he rotated the three players behind lone striker Fernando Torres with Oscar and Victor Moses coming in, plus Marko Marin to start his first league game.
'We were doing well and we had confidence we could carry on doing well,' said Benitez as he reflected on the Christmas and New Year games.
'We changed some players but from those only Marko Marin was not playing regularly. In the last games Moses had been playing, Oscar has been playing too. You could see that some players were a little bit tired, we were not precise in possession, we were not passing the ball with the accuracy and the high tempo we were expecting, and at the end we made a mistake and we gave them this chance - too many things together that were not working for us.
'QPR were sitting deep and they were waiting, and for them it was just to play counter attack and maybe a set piece - and that was the difference in the end.
'We can't carry on with the same players every game. If you are playing against a team that is bottom of the table at home then you have to trust your players and I trust them.
'I thought they were doing well and I thought that would be fine, but maybe in odd areas we were tired. You could see we didn't have the intensity and the pace on the pass and the movement that we were expecting.'
On not being able to rotate Fernando Torres and reports that Newcastle striker Demba Ba is about the sign for Chelsea…
'Torres is one of two or three players who have been playing too many games in the last weeks or months. We were trying to manage the squad every game with two or three players changing and it was going well, but against QPR it was not working.
'I don't have any official information [about Demba Ba]. I know [Newcastle manager] Alan Pardew has been talking and there are a lot of rumours but officially he is not our player. If we can do the business I hope he could be available for the weekend.
'I don't want to talk about names but if you have another striker then if you need to play with two strikers then you can do that, or if you want to rest a striker you can do it. We are a little bit short.'
'John can do the warm up in training with the team soon and then we will see how he progresses, but I can't give any date. He has a bone oedema, some bruising, so you can't say how long it will take.'
QPR manager Harry Redknapp was understandably pleased to have beaten a side 'who had been absolutely flying' in his words. And he spoke about an early tackle by Marko Marin that received a yellow card.
'You have to know the player and the lad who made the tackle hasn't got a bad tackle in him,' Redknapp said.
'Marin is a footballer and he has probably come in tonight and wants to show he can do well. He is not a nasty person so I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
'I tried to make sure we didn't press high up the pitch,' he added. 'We were going to drop into our own half and then look to press from there, and we did that well. We looked to hit Chelsea on the break when we could.'