Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted ‘it looks impossible’ for the Gunners to call upon their World Cup-winning German internationals Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski for either the Community Shield or the opening game of the 2014/15 Premier League campaign.
FIFA oblige clubs to allow their players at least four weeks off over the summer and the World Cup only finished on July 13, meaning there’s very little chance the trio would be fit in time for the August 16 clash with Crystal Palace.
However, while the loss of the first two named in particular will make their 3/10-rated chance of getting off to a flyer against the Eagles that little tougher to consummate, affording them extra rest now makes great sense in relation to their 6/1 bid for the Premier League title at the other end of the tunnel.
Just ask Juan Mata, who benefited greatly from gentle treatment at the beginning of Chelsea’s 2012/13 campaign after a hectic summer 2012 that included a World Cup win AND a rather less exciting Olympics display for Spain.
Speaking to the Guardian after that season’s community shield his then manager Roberto Di Matteo suggested:
“Mata needs a break because we run the risk of wearing him out, absolutely…
He’s OK at the moment but it’s important that you have a rest. We’ll plan it intelligently so that he won’t be missing too much of our season. There’s been dialogue with Spain and there’s been some joy. You need to look after the welfare of the player.”
Di Matteo recognised the risk of wearing out one of his most influential men for the season by working him too hard and targeted the period around the September international break for maximum Mata relaxation, even leaving him out of the XI for the local derby against QPR and the home Champions League tie against Juventus.
Far from cheese off the loveable number ten, the move’s ultimate wisdom endeared his manager to the Spaniard who opined “I think for us, he’s the perfect manager,” that very October.
The Italian’s prudence was not enough to keep him in a job, but come the end of the season Chelsea were able to reap it’s rewards as Mata scored vital goals in victories over Manchester United and tough-cookies Everton to nail down Champions League qualification, as well playing his part in their Europa League success.