John Terry was understandably the main subject of Roberto Di Matteo’s thoughts after the home draw with Liverpool, the skipper marking his return to the side with his 50th Chelsea goal before his afternoon took a turn for the worse when he was carried off with a knee injury.
Terry was already the highest scoring defender in the club’s history as he met a Juan Mata corner to head the team into a lead they held until the 72nd minute. That’s when Liverpool equalised, also from a corner, and two consecutive league draws raised fears of a repeat of recent seasons when results have dipped at this time of year.
Di Matteo responded to that suggestion but first he gave an update on the captain.
‘We will have to wait for a scan tomorrow to understand the full extent of the injury,’ said Di Matteo.
‘We have just got John back after the ban and it was great seeing him lead the team out. He started the game very well and showed exactly his qualities, experience and influence on the team, and it was a real shame he had to go off because he was having a very good game.
‘He is in pain now and we just hope it is not a serious injury and we have him back very soon.’
On letting the lead slip
‘We knew that we needed to score a second goal and it was crucial to kill the game of,’ said Di Matteo regretfully. ‘We had the chances to do so and their keeper made some great saves but at 1-0 it is always dangerous because the opposition can score from a set-play.
‘We had our men marking the opposition and Ramires was with Suarez who pushed him in the back and that created that little bit of space for him to head the goal. Sometimes the referees notice it, sometimes they don’t.’
On comparing this period of the season with the recent past
‘I think we are in much better shape than in previous years and in a much better position. We are very close to our best and we are still in the mix, but the amount of games you play in this period probably has some kind of effect.
‘We still have good momentum because we beat Man United in the cup, an incredible game, and we won in the Champions League midweek which was a massive game. It has just been in the league that we have not managed to win and the Man United league game obviously was a real blow because of the way it happened.
‘We are still playing well and still creating chances and we just need to be a bit more clinical to take chances and finish the game off.’
On the possibility of players returning for the visit to West Brom next weekend
David Luiz had tonsillitis but we hope he can fully recover in time. I hope and expect Ashley Cole to be available for the next game. For Frank Lampard it might be a tiny bit too early but he won’t be far off.’
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers began the game with an altered formation from the one he normally fielded this season. He played three at the back and wing-backs with Raheem Sterling moved to make a front pairing with Luis Suarez. He admitted it didn’t work as hoped.
‘We were a bit tentative first half, my fault,’ said Rodgers. ‘Normally we play with three front players and it allows us to press more high up the field, but I wanted to give more support to Luis Suarez but we couldn’t quite press it. With the two front players we couldn’t quite get our distances right.
‘I changed it and we got more on to the front foot and we started to play more like we have this season and won a good point. I know more than anyone how difficult it can be to play here.’