Gary Cahill is hopeful defensive solidity will enable Chelsea to bounce back from the frustration of a home goalless draw against West Ham and secure a positive result at the Etihad on Monday.
The Blues were held by Sam Allardyce’s side at Stamford Bridge, with Jose Mourinho’s men unable to make the most of our territorial superiority. Cahill acknowledged the tactical approach of the visitors had made life difficult.
‘In the first half they defended and they also had a go at going forward, but the second half was the total opposite, they were just camped in there.
‘I’ve been in a situation with Bolton when you come here and it’s tough. Of course you’re not going to play with two or three up front, you have to be defensive, but that was another level in the second half.
‘It’s a risky business; I think nine out of 10 times you do that you don’t come away with any points. It should have been that way with the amount of chances we had and the shots at goal we had, but it wasn’t to be.
‘We look at it as though we’ve dropped two points. The work-rate was there and on another day we would have finished one of those chances and won the game.’
On a positive note, another clean sheet ensured we conceded just one goal throughout the whole of January, and with Manchester City, our next opponents, seemingly scoring at will, and yet to drop a point at home in the Premier League, it will take another solid showing in the north-west if we are to emerge with reward.
‘We need to try to get a positive result on Monday but we know how difficult it’s going to be,’ said Cahill. ‘They put another five in [against Tottenham], they’re banging goals in left, right and centre so it’s going to be a tough test for us.
‘We managed to get a good result against them at Stamford Bridge but we’re playing away and going to that stadium this season has been difficult for everyone.
‘Defensively we’re doing well, we’re not letting in too many goals, Monday will be the ultimate test but hopefully we can get a result.’
Speaking about where the game could potentially be won or lost, Cahill, who has started our previous seven matches, expects the array of attacking talent on show to have a big impact.
‘It’s going to be a bit cagey, possibly like when we went to Old Trafford, where we look to keep it tight and take a chance when we get one through our creative players,’ he said. ‘Hopefully they can produce something that will get us a goal.
‘Man City have got some physical players but they’ve got a lot of creative, sharp players with dangerous movement. I think concentration will be a big part of the game on Monday and it could be a bit of individual brilliance that wins the game.
‘Because of the players we’ve got we can always go to big clubs and get results. I’m sure for the neutral it’s going to be an exciting game and we’re looking forward to it.’
In terms of the title race itself, there is still plenty of football to be played between now and May, and Monday’s game provides us with the ideal opportunity to send out a real statement of intent.
‘Arsenal and Man City haven’t been dropping many points so it’s going to be tough,’ said Cahill.
‘It’s going to go right until the end. The West Ham game was disappointing but nevertheless we are playng well at the moment. You can only take one game at a time, after Monday it will be a different picture and hopefully it will be a bright picture for us.’