Following a three-week hiatus, the Blues return to league action with a short trip to Queens Park Rangers later today, and Gary Cahill, who has played in his fair share of local derbies, is relishing the prospect of competing in such an atmosphere.
Our first London derby of the campaign pits us against a side still without a league win, but having lost the corresponding fixture last season 1-0, there is little danger of Roberto Di Matteo’s side underestimating a team managed by former Chelsea striker Mark Hughes.
Given the chance to choose one game in which they were guaranteed three points, there is no doubt that the Loftus Road faithful would plump for this one, but as Cahill explains, his team-mates are heading into the game looking to avenge last season’s disappointment.
‘I remember watching the game last season before I came here, which unfortunately Chelsea lost,’ Cahill tells the official Chelsea website. ‘That game, with the sending offs, had the feel of a real derby, and I think it sticks in the lads’ memory as well.
‘There are loads of teams around Bolton, so there’s no real needle fixture,’ he adds as he assesses his past experience of local rivalries.
‘But years ago, when I was on loan at Burnley, we played against Blackburn and that’s their proper derby. We met in the cup and that was a fiery game.
‘The Aston Villa v Birmingham game [where Cahill scored a famous and spectacular late equaliser for Villa] is another big memory for me, but derby games are great, the supporters love them. They’re always like cup finals to play in.’
The Blues currently top the table with maximum points following our opening three matches of the season and, in terms of performances, there have been plenty of positives to take.
The opening day win at Wigan was followed by a 4-2 home win against Reading, but perhaps our most significant display thus far came in the 2-0 win against Newcastle, a fixture we lost by the same scoreline back in May.
Since the victory over Alan Pardew’s men, however, we endured a disappointing night – both in terms of performance and result – when we were beaten 4-1 by Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, a game which the players are desperate to bounce back from, as Cahill explains.
‘Sometimes the best thing [after a defeat] is for the next game to come around as quickly as possible, but that hasn’t been the case because of the international break,’ says the 26-year-old.
‘The lads have been away, we’re all back now and, as I said before, I think it was just a freak game. It was one of those where we just need to draw a line under it. We can’t let it affect what we’re doing in the league where we’ve had a great start.
‘They know how big the game is, we know how big the game is. As well as being important in the league to keep our momentum going, it’s been a long time since we played, or at least it feels like it has, so it’s good to be back playing again.’
Visit Chelsea TV’s online access now for exclusive pre-match interviews with David Luiz and Roberto Di Matteo.