Maurizio Sarri has explained that the absences of Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kante against Cardiff City are down to him resting two key players.
The Blues boss named Pedro and Willian either side of Gonzalo Higuain, while Kante also dropped to the bench in favour of a midfield three featuring Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic and Ross Barkley.
He claims that Hazard and Kante are fatigued after playing a great deal of football this season, and after a particularly heavy workload during the international break.
"At the moment Kante has played 50 matches this season and Hazard 47," Sarri told reporters before the game.
"They played with their national teams - Hazard for 187 minutes and Kante for 175 minutes and so I think that it's time to rest [them]."
He also explained the continued absence of Callum Hudson-Odoi from the starting line-up, with the exciting teenager still yet to make a Premier League start under Sarri, who has favoured Pedro and Willian ahead of him in the pecking order.
"Callum is always in my mind and I have to decide the starting XI but today I want to put him in the [position] to change the starting XI in the match on Wednesday [against Brighton].
"I don't know [if he could replace Hazard] but I had - for all the international break - Pedro and Willian in training and I thought that it was right to start with them."
Sarri also shared his thoughts on his side's top-four bid and their recent poor away form.
"Every match, of course, is an opportunity and a risk at the moment.
"At the moment we are mentally vulnerable, so it's a risk, but it's also an opportunity because our potential is good.
"We will try [to amend our away form], of course, but it's very strange, because at the beginning of the season we did better away than at home, so suddenly at the beginning of 2019 we changed.
"It's very difficult for me to explain why. It's very difficult for the players to explain why [to me], but we are trying to change, of course."