Gary Cahill felt our victory against Manchester City was the perfect response to last week’s draw against West Ham United.
Branislav Ivanovic scored the only goal of the game at the Etihad Stadium just after the half-hour mark, drilling a sweet left-footed strike beyond Joe Hart, and though City threatened in the second half, an outstanding collective defensive display ensured we headed back to the capital with three priceless points.
Cahill, along with the likes of John Terry, Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta, put his body on the line as the home side chased an equaliser, making a number of crucial blocks, and he was understandably delighted with the result.
‘It was a huge performance from us,’ said the Blues defender. ‘We worked hard, in the second half everyone put in a shift and that’s what you need to do when you go there.
‘Everybody’s aware of their home form this season but we put in a great performance and overall I felt we deserved to win the game.
‘Obviously they put pressure on us at times. They started the game really well, in the first 10-15 minutes we had to weather the storm but then we came into the game and our attacking players created a lot. We hit the woodwork three times, had a few flashed across the box and could have had more.’
Tactically, Jose Mourinho’s plan undoubtedly worked, with our attacking intent seemingly catching the hosts off guard, while the deployment of David Luiz and Nemanja Matic in midfield offered Cahill and Terry plenty of protection.
‘We worked on it in the last couple of days. The manager explained what he wanted from us and I thought we delivered it so I’m sure he’ll be pleased,’ Cahill said.
‘After we drew against West Ham it was important we got a win. It’s a really difficult place to go so we’re very happy.
‘We said in the team meeting that they hadn’t failed to score at home since 2010 so that was fun listening to that before we left, but records are there to be broken and we kept a clean sheet. We defended really well, Pete made some good saves and there were a few good blocks by us.’
We will be looking to get the better of City for the third time this season when we return to the Etihad a week on Saturday for an FA Cup fifth round clash, a game which is preceded by Premier League matches at home to Newcastle and away at West Bromwich Albion.
Cahill is hopeful we can carry the confidence acquired from the win against City into those two games.
‘We’ll go about our business as quietly as we have done up to now,’ he explained. ‘Of course, this was a huge game, especially after West Ham. If we’d lost it would have opened a gap between us but what it’s done now is close the gap, let’s hope it continues.’