Two of the players responsible for ensuring the Blues possess the best defensive record in the Barclays Premier League have been talking exclusively to Chelsea TV ahead of today’s game against Sunderland.
Petr Cech and Gary Cahill both played during the 4-3 win in the corresponding fixture back in December, one of only two occasions this season we’ve conceded more than two goals in a game.
Stoke scored three against us the following weekend, but since then we’ve proved extremely difficult to break down, with Cahill outlining the requirements made by the manager on each player.
‘We’ve managed to keep a solid back four and big Pete consistently, touch wood we’ve not had many injuries and we’ve worked hard as a team,’ the defender told Chelsea TV.
‘The gaffer wants the wingers to track back and work hard, and the midfielders to do the same, so if everyone’s chipping in those are the rewards you get.’
Cech went on to explain how the matches at Sunderland and Stoke, defensively at least, became a turning point for the players.
‘We realised that if you don’t pay attention to small details and if you concede so many goals it’s not going to work,’ he said. ‘In the Sunderland game we conceded all three goals from set plays which were badly executed. You can’t always get away with a 4-3 victory.
‘If there’s a defensive corner or a counter-attack, everybody has to try to be in a good position quickly to make sure we are able to recover. We need to make sure we are there and not to give anybody an unnecessary advantage.’
Gustavo Poyet’s side go into today’s game still a long way from safety, but they will be buoyed by their midweek draw at Manchester City, a game they were unfortunate not to win.
‘Any team in the league, if you don’t play well, will cause you problems,’ added Cech. ‘If you go from top to bottom, everybody has international players in their squad. Not everybody comes here to play for teams in the top four, they all want to be part of the Premier League.
‘You can see every team has improved their squads immensely and that’s why it’s hard to win every game. If you play in all the cups it becomes difficult, but let’s see what’s going to happen. If we have a good game and continue what we’ve been doing, I believe this is the way to win.’
Cahill was understandably pleased Manuel Pellegrini’s side dropped points against Sunderland, especially after losing at Liverpool, and he believes we need to ensure we don’t suffer a similar fate.
‘It wasn’t on telly but I kept flicking over to check the result,’ he said. ‘Obviously you always think there are going to be twists and turns so I waited until the end of the match and saw they drew.
‘It’s fantastic for us but I’m sure there will still be a lot of twists and turns in the last four games so we’ll see what happens.’
You can watch the interview in full via the channel’s online access.