Gary Cahill believes Chelsea can go on another long unbeaten run – and also believes they will need to
The easy manner of Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat of Sporting Lisbon at Stamford Bridge blew away any lingering hangover from the club’s first defeat of the season, at Newcastle last weekend. That ended a 23-match, 102 day unbeaten start to the campaign. Now Cahill is looking to start again, beginning on Saturday at home to Hull City.
“We believe we can go on another unbeaten run because we're playing well and we look good,” said the England defender. “We've lost one game this season. Of course the belief is there.
“It's important we do [go on a run],” he added. “because at the end of the season we want to be top of the league. You can see how close [Manchester] City at this moment are to us, even with our unbeaten run. We think about that. How hard we worked to go on that unbeaten run and how well everyone spoke about we were playing, but yet we're just three points in front with many games to go. That's why the manager was playing down the unbeaten thing. It's so hard. Everyone realises it’s unbelievably hard to go through a season without losing a game.”
After Stoke the attention will return, albeit briefly, to Europe and Monday’s Champions League draw. Manager Jose Mourinho spoke of ‘sharks’ swimming in the draw, but Cahill is confident no team will want to draw his one.
Chelsea player ratings vs Sporting
Chelsea player ratings vs Sporting
1/10 Petr Cech
With Chelsea already through as Group G winners, Thibaut Courtois was given the night off and Cech made just his fourth start of the season. He could do nothing about Sporting’s goal but did produce a good save from Islam Slimani’s powerful second-half header. 7/10
2/10 Cesar Azpilicueta
Switched to right back to accommodate Filipe Luis and had a comfortable evening. Booked late on. 7
3/10 Kurt Zouma
The 20-year-old defender impressed after coming on as a substitute against Tottenham and, playing alongside Gary Cahill at centre-half, did well again here. 7
4/10 Filipe Luis
Has found opportunities limited since moving to Stamford Bridge last summer and will struggle to break into the Chelsea side ahead of Azpilicueta. 6
5/10 Cesc Fabregas
Played further forward in the No10 role and put Chelsea ahead from the penalty spot after eight minutes. 7
6/10 Jon Obi Mikel
Put Chelsea 3-1 up with just fifth goal in eight years and his first since January. Did will alongside Matic in midfield. 7
7/10 Nemanja Matic
Chelsea missed Matic against Newcastle and the Serbia international, who has become a key player for Jose Mourinho, was a commanding presence in midfield. 7
8/10 Mohamed Salah
Had a rare opportunity to impress Jose Mourinho but did little and was substituted after 70 minutes. 5
9/10 Andre Schurrle
Scored his first goal since September to double Chelsea’s lead in the firs half, but then his weak header was punished by Jonathan Silva for Sporting’s goal. Replaced by Ramires after 73 minutes. 7
10/10 Diego Costa
Still looking for his first Champions League goal. Had a quiet evening. 6
“I think we're a good team. I think we're certainly playing well. That unbeaten run that lasted so long, where we are in the league this season, and how we're playing. I'm sure people will have taken a lot of notice of that. I think we're dangerous but there are loads of dangerous teams going into the next round. We're no different. I'm sure teams won't want to come up against us.
“Last year we were close, I feel that we're going stronger this season so let's see. It was crazy when I first came - within six months we ended up winning the competition. On the flip side, the following year we went out [at the group stage] with 10 points. Last year we were so close. I feel that not just me, but as a team we've got more experience than last season. It hurt us a lot to go out in the semi-final. Let's just see who we get. We've done all we can at this stage.”
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