Gary Cahill believes the performances produced against our direct rivals this season demonstrate we have every right to be aiming to win the Barclays Premier League title.
Liverpool, like Manchester City, left Stamford Bridge on Sunday having been beaten 2-1, while we have emerged from matches at Old Trafford, White Hart Lane and the Emirates unbeaten.
It’s defeats against the likes of Newcastle United and Stoke City which have cost during the first half of the season, and Cahill acknowledges we need to be more consistent in the New Year.
‘In the big games this season we have turned up,’ said the Chelsea defender. ‘We drew at Arsenal and Manchester United, beat Manchester City and Liverpool here, we could maybe have won against Bayern Munich early on and lost on penalties. The focus now is to play like we did against Liverpool every week because we really moved the ball around quickly.
‘It’s the halfway point now but games like these can sometimes determine whether you win or lose the title. It’s massively important for us to consecutively try to produce wins, for whatever reason we’ve put in some good performances against the big teams this season which shows we should be well and truly up there.
‘Of course we can win the league, and that’s what we’re aiming to do, along with some other fantastic teams. We know it’s going to be tough but at the moment we’ve put ourselves in a good position and the second half of the season is going to be big for us.’
The performance against Brendan Rodgers’s side, who went into Sunday’s game in a rich vein of form, was one of our best this season, and one that sends out a serious statement of intent.
Cahill, who was outstanding alongside John Terry in nullifying the threat of Luis Suarez, felt the result was made all the more significant given Arsenal’s win at Newcastle earlier in the day.
‘I remember reading a lot of negative things about the side going into the Arsenal game and if we’d won that match we would have gone above them,’ he explained. ‘We need to look at that as a positive; when we do click hopefully we can expect some good things.
‘Moving forward it’s important that we’re in touching distance. Liverpool was a massive game because some of the teams played on Saturday and then we saw Arsenal win before we went out, so it put added pressure on us to get a result and thankfully we did it.’
The Blues are now unbeaten since falling to a last-minute defeat at Stoke earlier this month, and central to our success has been the partnership of Cahill and Terry, which continues to blossom.
We’ve conceded just one goal in three games over the festive period, Liverpool’s scrappy opener on Sunday, and Cahill is understandably pleased with the collective effort defensively.
‘I feel good in the partnership and I feel good in the back four,’ he said. ‘We had a little blip where we conceded a few goals but we’ve tightened it right back up again now in the last few weeks.
‘We were disappointed to go 1-0 down so early on, against Southampton we did the same thing and while clearly it’s not a positive, it seems to get a reaction. Straight after that we were on the front foot and I think that’s why we saw such a good first-half performance.’
Our game against Southampton precedes Sunday’s FA Cup third round clash at Derby County, with the Champions League resuming in February when we take on Galatasaray.
For now, Cahill isn’t looking too far ahead, but the 28-year-old believes our squad is more than capable of challenging on all fronts.
‘The gaffer said it’s a bit of a transitional period but at the same time we have the quality to be competing in the league, Champions League and FA Cup,’ he said.
‘The league is obviously going to be entertaining this season, I’m sure it will go all the way to the wire but as long as we’re there we’re in with a good shout ourselves.’
You can listen to live commentary of our game against Southampton on Chelsea TV from 3pm.