Chelsea assistant manager Steve Holland has explained that Petr Čech replaced Thibaut Courtois during the 2-0 victory over Newcastle on Saturday, 10 January, because the Belgium international sustained an injury during the Tottenham defeat on New Year.

Meanwhile, José Mourinho's assistant explained Gary Cahill was benched in favour of Kurt Zouma just due to rest.

The Blues took advantage of Manchester City's draw at Everton to move two points clear of Manuel Pellegrini's side at the top of the Premier League.

After some players rested during the FA Cup against Watford, Mourinho deployed his starting eleven to beat Newcastle but both Courtois and Cahill remained on the bench.

Asked about the duo omission after the game, Holland said, according to BBC: "It was something that Thibaut picked up in the game against Tottenham. If it had been vital to play he could but when we had Petr Čech as a replacement it was a no-brainer."

Meanwhile, speaking about Cahill he added: "Dropped is not a word we would use (about Cahill)."

"It's a long, long season and we have a big squad of players. We get criticism for not giving young guys a go, but I don't think Kurt Zouma put a foot wrong. A 20-year-old making his first league start and if he carries on playing like that it won't be his last either."

César Azpilicueta was replaced by Filipe Luís before half-time due to an injury. However, Holland believes it is nothing serious.

"We don't think is a major problem. We will know more when he will have a scan."

Meanwhile, speaking about the game, he admitted Chelsea struggled to replicate their best form during the first half, despite the result.

"The two halves were different. You have to give credit to Newcastle, I think Steve Carver and Steve Stone gave them a good set-up today. We didn't play so well but got the breakthrough.

"The team was much better in the second half and controlled the game, playing some good football around their box.

"You always want to play well but that's now always possible. Today was a 45 minutes which we haven't had often over the course of the season but we still managed to be 1-0 up. It is important that when you don't play as well as you'd like to still get the result."