DI MATTEO: PRESSURE TO PERFORM

Roberto Di Matteo used the old adage that there are no easy games when discussing Tuesday night’s Champions League group game against FC Nordsjaelland in Copenhagen.

The manager knows that as reigning European champions, we will be heavy favourites against the first-time qualifiers, despite the game taking place on Danish soil, but has warned we must be on top of our game if we are to take anything from matchday two.

There is also pressure to win, having surrendered a two-goal lead at home to Juventus a fortnight ago in our opening Group E fixture.

‘For us it’s probably the most important game in the group because we drew the first game at home so it’s important we gain points away from home,’ Di Matteo said. ‘For us it’s a crucial game and I want the team to be focused. It’s going to be a strong team and there might be some changes because we played a very intense game on Saturday. A win would certainly help and that’s what we are aiming for.

‘We know from the past in the Champions League that there are no easy games, especially away from home. It’s very difficult and Nordsjaelland have shown how good they are when they went to Shakhtar and had the majority of possession. They’re not afraid to play their football and it’s going to be difficult for us. We are probably favourites on paper but we have to show that on the pitch.

‘We watched Nordsjaelland a lot and I had the pleasure to meet their coach Kasper Hjulmand in Switzerland at the Uefa elite coaches conference. It’s a fantastic story winning the league for the first time with a young coach and developing a brand of football the coach likes, [but] we like to have the ball as well.

‘We are putting a big emphasis on possession and as long as we have the ball then the opposition can’t score, so hopefully we will have more of the ball than Nordsjaelland and will try and create chances, but their philosophy is on possession and it will be an interesting game.’

It was put to Di Matteo that games like this provide validation of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play policy, and the Italian admitted he was all in favour of sanctions that create a level playing field.

‘We as a club are in favour of Financial Fair Play,’ he commented. ‘We are doing everything to be within those new laws and rules, and I think we are on course for it. Also I do think it’s unsustainable the way clubs have been run in the past.

‘Every year you see some club going into administration or out of business which is not good. The amount of debt football clubs have in England and around Europe is unsustainable, so everybody welcomes these new rules.’

Di Matteo also suggested Frank Lampard may return to the starting line-up on Tuesday, and stressed the 34-year-old remains a key figure despite not starting since Juventus.

‘He is a very important player for us. I’ve had conversations with him, which I do on a regular basis,’ confirmed the manager. ‘I like to exchange opinions and he is very supportive of the team when he is not in it, and when he is in it he is a great performer.

‘We’re fortunate to have a very strong squad with very good players. Going forward with a busy schedule it’s important we can use these players.’

Di Matteo also suggested Lampard will not be restricted to a deeper holding midfield role, despite the 4-2-3-1 shape.

‘He’s been playing that role but I don’t think I’ve ever taken [the forward running] away from him or said he’s not allowed to.

‘It’s his strength, but in that role sometimes we need to be disciplined and it’s important for the balance of the team. He’s played magnificently last season and this season too so there are no concerns about him.’

You will be able to know who Di Matteo selects for his team first on Tuesday with Chelsea Mobile.

CHELSEA TV HEADLINES: DAVID LUIZ FIT FOR DENMARK

The latest Blues News bulletin, which can be viewed here, comes from Copenhagen where the team are now located ready for Tuesday’s Champions League match.

The channel reports David Luiz travelling, the defender overcoming the injury that forced him off early against Arsenal, and that Daniel Sturridge remains unavailable.

There is more on the squad in the bulletin and there will be more news from Denmark on Chelsea TV at 6.30pm this evening. 

CECH: JOB WELL DONE

Having played a significant role in our 2-1 win at Arsenal, Petr Cech believes the result will have sent out a warning to our title rivals.

The Chelsea goalkeeper made two stunning stops midway through the second half to keep us in front, firstly to deny Lucas Podolski, whose header looked destined for the top corner, and soon after from a deflected Olivier Giroud cross.

Both teams went into the game unbeaten in the league, but with Arsene Wenger’s side already having emerged unscathed from trips to Liverpool and Manchester City, we were the team with it all to prove, and Cech feels we responded in the perfect manner.

‘It’s a great win, we wanted to stay top of the league,’ said the 31-year-old. ‘Everybody was saying that it would be a big test for us because Arsenal have been playing really well.

‘We knew that if we didn’t win we could have been behind for the first time this season, but we got the three points and I thought it was a good performance.

‘We did really well over the 90 minutes, you expect Arsenal to have a few chances at home. It’s just a pity because in the second half we had so many good counter-attacks, but we didn’t pick the right pass to kill the game off, that’s why it was still in the balance.’

With a new-look Blues side gradually beginning to take shape, nobody would expect to see Roberto Di Matteo oversee a change in playing style without a few creases to iron out to overcome. However it has been as positive a start to the league campaign as anybody could have wished for, with the Blues top of the table having dropped only two points.

‘It’s a team in construction but, because we have a lot of good players, we’ve been doing well, but I hope we can still improve,’ said Cech.

‘There are some new lads in the team who are discovering Premier League football, and as they get more experience, they will become better players.

‘We’ve had difficult games so far and managed to come through them really well, we’re taking it step by step, game by game. Everybody was saying we’ll see what they can do, and we did well, so that’s pleasing.’

Cech went on to praise the contributions of Juan Mata, who looks a player reborn following his recent two-week break, and the skipper John Terry, who went into the game having barely trained following his appearance at an FA hearing.

‘For us, the important thing is to have Mata for the whole season, not to have him for three months and then see him burn out,’ said the Blues goalkeeper.

‘If you play 60 games and then go to the Euros and Olympics, it’s easy to burn out. He needed a break, and it was well done by the coaching staff.

‘All through his career, John Terry’s shown that playing football is what matters to him. He’s playing and focusing on his game. All the other things are unfortunate, but he’s on the pitch doing well, and that’s where we need him.’

PRE-ORDER YOUR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SOUVENIR BOOK NOW

You can now pre-order the new official club book, Kings of Europe, which documents our journey through the Champions League last season.

Packed with exclusive, never-seen-before photographs, it provides unprecedented access to the Chelsea players, going behind the scenes as they overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to be crowned champions of Europe.

You can relive the excitement of every match, including those unforgettable evenings when Barcelona and Bayern Munich were beaten in their own backyards. With unprecedented access, Kings of Europe venture inside the dressing room, joins the squad on their flights across the continent and gets right to the heart of the club’s preparation and celebrations.

Explore the final from every angle, including the bits you may have missed as a night of unbearable tension and unremitting drama is recounted and pictured in glorious detail.

Kings of Europe is available for pre-order now, to be delivered on release day – October 25. By ordering now, you will also be entered into a draw to win one of five signed match programmes from the Champions League Final in Munich.

MATA: GOOD TO BE BACK

Juan Mata played a starring role in our 2-1 win at Arsenal on Saturday, and the diminutive Spaniard believes his impressive form of late is largely down to the rest he was given during the recent international break.

It was from Mata’s free-kick that Fernando Torres volleyed us into a first-half lead at the Emirates, and after Gervinho had drawn the hosts level shortly before the break, last season’s Player of the Year scored the decisive goal, curling another free-kick beyond Vito Mannone.

Having played at least some part in almost all of our matches last season, Mata’s summer was taken up representing Spain at both the European Championships and London Olympics, ensuring the two-week break he was given by Roberto Di Matteo was long overdue.

‘It was a nice break for me,’ he said. ‘I had two weeks resting, trying to get away from football, and it worked well because of a good run for the team, where we went top of the league.

‘It was nice just to spend some time with my friends and family. Before the rest I didn’t feel bad, but it’s a long season with so many games, so it will be good for me.’

Since returning, the playmaker has looked revitalised, while his relationship and understanding with Eden Hazard and Oscar appears to be growing by the game.

However, while he is enjoying his role in what is a new-look side, particularly from an attacking perspective, in terms of our objectives, very little has changed.

‘I like to play with people like Oscar and Hazard,’ he explained. ‘They like to play football the same way as me, we understand each other well and hopefully we can do even better.

‘I like to play with the ball, with freedom and to try to get some assists. It’s what we are trying to do and we are having some good results.

‘The main aim for us is to win, and if we can do that with a good performance it’s even better for the team and the supporters.’

Much was made of the free-kick which saw us bring an end to Arsenal’s unbeaten start to the campaign, and whether or not Mata’s delivery had taken a touch off Laurent Koscielny.

The 24-year-old, though, was simply pleased to have played his part, while also paying tribute to the performance of Torres.

‘I tried to aim to the second post because it’s difficult for the goalkeeper, but it doesn’t matter who scores, the most important thing is that we win,’ said Mata.

‘I love to play with Fernando, for me he’s one of the best strikers, he’s doing very well at the moment and he’s going to be very important for us and score a lot of goals.’