The latest blog from Stephen Rea, our Stateside columnist, looks at the demands on our players involved at international level this week...
It's the international break. Although, it’s not really. There is no break for most Chelsea players.
The demands on our stars are crazy compared to sports Stateside. The Blues are elite sportsmen at the pinnacle of their profession and some of the hardest working in the world. Here in the USA, none of the three most popular sports have anything like the expectations that are put on the boys who represent our club.
Obviously, it’s hard to compare four different sports. But at least on a physical level, on average work rate, we can take a brief stab at it.
In American football there are only 16 contests in a regular season. Just 16! Chelsea played the same number of matches between October 20 and December 22 last year. A whole NFL campaign encapsulated in nine weeks, a fifth of a 10-month Premier League year. Of course, the physicality of gridiron is much more rigorous, and the teams who make the playoffs extend their year, though by a maximum of four games.
Now baseball sides play an incredible 162 contests. Their season is compressed, with the action starting this week and finishing by the end of September, though again, that will be lengthened for those who make the post-season.
But how physically draining are the matches? I'm not denigrating the sport - I enjoy watching the minor league club here in New Orleans - but it's hardly comparable to 90 minutes of high-intensity football. The pitchers and catchers barely move, the batters have to complete a circuit of (at most) four bases, while the fielders occasionally sprint to catch or retrieve a ball.
As for basketball, NBA teams rack up 82 games which are again spread out over six months from October to April. Those giants are supreme athletes no doubt, yet the court is only 94 feet long and 50 feet wide, a fraction of the size of a football pitch. The contest takes half as long, and the 48-minute playing time is divided into quarters. So, three breaks, as well as each side being allowed seven timeouts. There are a lot of stoppages, and perhaps more pertinently, it is a non-contact sport.
Our competitive campaign started back on August 5 with the Community Shield and could (hopefully) stretch all the way to May 29 and the Europa League final. Chelsea players work relentlessly.
Right now, on the international ‘break,’ many have two more matches. There is no let up.