Frank Lampard has bemoaned a perceived lack of support offered to English clubs in Europe by the domestic game's governing bodies as Chelsea seek to cope with a disrupted recovery and training schedule before Saturday's west London derby at Fulham, following the 1-1 Champions League draw at Galatasaray.
Chelsea had hoped that the match would be put back to Sunday but the game was not selected for television coverage. The team arrived at Gatwick at 4am on Thursday and José Mourinho is in effect left with one full session, late on Friday afternoon at Stamford Bridge rather than at Cobham, to prepare for the fixture.
"It's not ideal," said Lampard, who played the whole game in Istanbul but would be expected to drop to the bench on Saturday as a result. "We don't expect any favours and certainly know we won't get them. It's about resting up and getting ready to go.
"I don't know about the Premier League but other countries seem to look after their teams representing them in the Champions League. I'm not sure we do so much here. I'm not trying to get one over on other Premier League teams. It just seems a general rule: a bit of common sense would be nice if you are getting back at 6am. We can't moan. We've got a fantastic squad with fit young players, so we have to get on with it."
Mourinho has made great play of the cluttered nature of the club's schedule , with domestic fixtures effectively dictated by television coverage, and has support among the other managers still involved in European competition. Arsène Wenger was dismayed to see Arsenal's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Liverpool pushed back to Sunday earlier this month for live broadcast, three days before his team hosted Bayern Munich in the Champions League. They had initially hoped the domestic cup tie would be played on the Saturday and the Frenchman has called on Uefa to harmonise domestic fixture schedules around Champions League matches.
In competing European leagues, clubs are sometimes able to reschedule their matches so that players have additional recovery around midweek Champions League ties. Asked this month if enough was done to help English teams in Europe, Wenger said: "You cannot do less because they do nothing. In the other leagues they do help teams. I've already suggested in Uefa meetings to make sure that in Champions League competitions that the teams before have the same amount of rest."
The Fulham fixture provides Chelsea, who will welcome Nemanja Matic back to the starting lineup and may hand Mohamed Salah a first start, with an opportunity to stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League against the division's bottom club. Indeed, Mourinho's side can move nine points clear of third-place Manchester City, who play in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday, if they win their next two league games, with Manuel Pellegrini's side not due to play again in the league until 15 March.
"It's up to us," added Lampard. "We could have done with Fulham being on a Sunday considering the journey we've had, but you don't get too many favours. We won't make excuses before the game, but we need to get our heads down and concentrate on ourselves. It's tight and that would be a nice gap. Regardless of whether City are playing or not, with Arsenal in there we have to keep winning. It's crunch time where you have to develop a winning mentality that, even if you play badly, you win.
"We didn't play particularly well against Everton but it was desire that got us over the line. If you relax for a game you will lose. Look at Fulham, they are fighting for their lives. It would be a lot better if they were mid-table and cruising. You have to be ruthless week on week to get those results."