Juan Mata highlighted the need to perform more consistently against the sides occupying league positions around Chelsea when he spoke to the club’s own channel in the wake of the weekend game.
The defeat at Manchester City follows a home draw against Roberto Mancini’s men earlier in the season. We secured a double over Arsenal and beat Tottenham on their turf but lost to Man United at home back in October, in a game when decisions by officials did not go the Blues’ way.
‘The most important games are when you play against the best teams in the Premier League and you have to show you are at this level,’ Mata told Chelsea TV.’On Sunday it wasn’t enough, the job that we did, and what we have to do now is just carry on, the season is not finished yet.
‘When you play teams like Man City you have to perform at your best. We tried but in the first 25 minutes they were better at pressing us. At the end of the first half we changed the game a little bit and after we had a few chances, and in the second half it was an important moment with the penalty and Joe Hart did a very good save.’
Gary Cahill also considered the top-of-the-table matches and the effect this season’s unusually crowded fixture list is having.
‘At the start of the season we had spark and we had zip and sometimes a little bit of fatigue plays its part,’ said the defender. ‘Man City had a clear week before the game and we didn’t and they were a lot fresher and sharper than us.
‘It does take its toll, we have not had a clear week for many weeks and you are expected to go into games 100 per cent fresh, trying to push on for every competition. You don’t want to make excuses but it is a fact. It is something we have to deal with.’
The latest round of league results have seen Chelsea slip to fourth in the table and Mata says moving back up the league is the number one priority in the remaining months.
‘Our main objective now is to play the Champions League next season,’ stated the Spaniard. ‘Obviously we want to win the FA Cup and the Europa League and we are still alive in these competitions, but the main aim is to be third and play in the Champions League.
‘We have the two cups and we have to get in the Champions League spots, that is our aim until the end of the season,’ agreed Cahill.
‘That is what we have to focus on and we have to go again. All three of them are in our own hands so we need to keep going, keep plugging away and make sure we achieve those goals.’