With the Blues facing two successive Barclays Premier League away games, starting with tonight’s trip to face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, Demba Ba is confident we can pick up maximum points before we play again at Stamford Bridge.
The Senegalese striker came off the bench to play a significant role in Sunday’s second-half comeback against Southampton, scoring his first league goal of the season in the process, and with Jose Mourinho’s side maintaining our pursuit of leaders Arsenal, there is little margin for error in the weeks ahead.
‘We need to keep it going although we did very well against Southampton,’ Ba tells the official Chelsea website. ‘When you have two games in a row away from home, like we do, it’s very important to pick up six points before we then play at home against Crystal Palace.
‘It’s also important for us to keep the pressure on Arsenal, they have two home games now which they will be expecting to win but we need to be there, and in a good position to take advantage, if they do drop points. We need to stay as close to them as possible.’
Ba, who signed for the Blues from Newcastle United just under a year ago, hasn’t featured as much as he would have liked so far this season, but with eight games still to play this month, every member of the squad is expected to be needed.
Ba staked his claim on Sunday with an impressive 45 minutes, operating alongside Fernando Torres as Mourinho switched from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2, and scoring his fourth goal against Southampton as a Chelsea player.
‘It was good, we needed to put pressure on them in order to win the game at 1-0 down and that’s why the manager played with two strikers in the second half,’ he says. ‘That’s what happened so I was pleased with my own contribution but even happier for the team because it was a very important victory.
‘Sometimes there are teams that when you play against them you always score. When I play against Southampton with Chelsea it always reminds me of my debut, which is obviously a fantastic memory for me, but it also gives me a lot of confidence because I scored two in that game.
‘With every performance I try to show what I can do and that I am prepared to fight to play to my maximum level. Every time the manager gives me minutes on the pitch it’s a gift, and it’s up to me to take it. That’s what I did on Sunday against Southampton and hopefully I can do it against Sunderland if I have the opportunity.’
As a former Newcastle United player, Ba knows better than anybody what to expect on arrival in the north east, and the Black Cats have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes following the arrival of former Chelsea midfielder Gustavo Poyet as manager, winning their previous two home matches in the league.
‘It was totally different when I played for Newcastle against them because of the emotion of the derby,’ Ba says. ‘The atmosphere tonight won’t be the same, and the engagement of the players won’t be the same, but every team that play against Chelsea want to put in a performance and win, so it’s not going to be an easy game.
‘The manager is new and the players want to show him that they deserve to play. In every training session and in every game they will be doing everything to impress him so we will be playing against a highly motivated side’
Don’t miss Matchnight Live tonight at 6.30pm on Chelsea TV, where studio guests Pat Nevin and Michael Duberry will be looking ahead to the game, while you can also see an exclusive interview with Jose Mourinho.