Speaking on the eve of a Champions League game in Italy from which at least a point is needed to keep qualification for the knockout stage in our hands, Gary Cahill has discussed the recent defensive record and the pain of losing games.
The Blues are four games without a win in the Premier League but a last-gasp victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in our most recent European outing means victory over Juventus on Tuesday evening will guarantee a place in the last 16. A draw means victory over FC Nordsjaelland at home in the final group game will be enough to progress.
To take something from the game in Italy the players are fully aware aspects of the performance level must improve, especially the number of goals conceded recently, and Cahill, who has started five of the last six games in central defence and came on in the other insists there is nothing fundamentally wrong.
‘Of course you are going to be more open when players are trying to hurt teams with attack-minded players, but it is the same set-up as at the start of the season when we were keeping clean sheets and defending well,’ said the 26-year-old.
‘So far this season has been in two halves because up to the Tottenham game we kept six clean sheets and had one of the best defences in the league. Of late it has not been the case but it is the same personnel and now it is important we get back to the way we started the campaign.
‘It is a matter of the whole team going back to doing what we were doing defensively that brought us success.’
Cahill also spoke about the man who was his central defensive partner in the Champions League Final in Munich and for the win over Shakhtar this month, but also for Saturday’s disappointing defeat at West Brom. He was asked to compare playing with David Luiz with lining up alongside John Terry.
‘David Luiz is one of the most comfortable central defenders on the ball I have seen and he has great ability, he is a top footballer. You don’t play for a top team like Chelsea and Brazil and even captain Brazil if you are not a top footballer. John it is a different type of player but they are both fantastic.’
The players are not hiding from their responsibility to put the season back on track as disappointment in the dressing room after defeat at The Hawthorns made clear to Cahill.
‘In the short space of time I have been here, losing games has not been acceptable and when you do lose people are hurt and upset and it is a positive thing. Sometimes things need to be said and it is great to have that reaction. I would be worried if people were just going into the shower, getting dressed and getting on the bus.
‘Being part of a club like Chelsea you are expected to go out and perform and get results, but also people want to sign for Chelsea because they want to be a part of big things. The players want to win games. Even at times drawing games feels bad. It is a philosophy the club has and the players have as well.
‘From last year season when the manager took the job he has done tremendously well and achieved such a lot in a short space of time. We started the campaign really well and everyone is supporting him. He is definitely the right man as he proved last year and I am sure he will prove it again this year.
‘It is an important week but if we get the right results we will be on the right path again. We have strong characters in the dressing room and I am sure we will pull through.’