Chelsea victories matter more than clean sheets, says Cech

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The Independent Online

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is clearly buying into manager Andre Villas-Boas's weekly-stated mantra of "letting the talent flow freely", such is his nonchalance at his failure to keep clean sheets this season.

Cech, whose 1,025-minute stint without conceding a goal in 2005 was a Premier League record until Edwin van der Sar of Manchester United surpassed it in 2009, has failed to keep a clean sheet in league games since the opening match of the season when Chelsea drew 0-0 at Stoke City.

The Czech Republic international admits the lack of shut-outs this season may be a symptom of the team adapting to Villas-Boas's playing style, which is far easier on the eye than that of many previous managers at Stamford Bridge.

But he says as long as the team is winning, there is no cause for concern. "The team comes first," Cech said. "So as long as you keep winning games... it is always better to finish with a clean sheet, but we have been playing well and we keep getting three points.

"If you finish the game 0-0 you might be happy with a clean sheet, but it is only one point. If you win 3-1 you get three points which is more important for the team. We are improving all the time and we will get back to our record of keeping clean sheets."

Villas-Boas, who is likely to rest a host of first-choice players in tonight's Champions League Group E game against Genk, is similarly unconcerned about the habit of conceding late goals. And he is pleased his team are beginning to play with the fluency he had envisaged from the start of the season. "Goalscoring has not been a problem," Villas-Boas said. "The most important thing for us was to progress from the first three games of the season [against Stoke, West Bromwich and Norwich].

"From the win at Sunderland onwards we have been able to be more fluent. The most important thing is for us to be up there challenging and at the moment things are happening for us."

Chelsea will qualify for the knockout stages if they beat Genk tonight and then again in Belgium in two weeks' time. Villas-Boas rested John Terry for the Bayer Leverkusen game last month and kept Frank Lampard on the bench, and he hinted he may do something similar against Genk this evening.

"The most important thing is we are aware of the amount of talent we have at our disposal," Villas-Boas said "Any XI we put out is very, very strong, as is any squad of 18 we put out."