CECH ENCOURAGED

Petr Cech believes we can be satisfied with our work over the first part of the season, with the Blues, having beaten Crystal Palace 2-1, now only two points behind leaders Arsenal ahead of our meeting with the Gunners at the Emirates next Monday.

Jose Mourinho's side overcame Tony Pulis's side on Saturday in a tight contest which was settled by a wonderful Ramires strike.

The victory came just three days after we beat Steaua Bucharest 1-0 to top our Champions League group, and with a Capital One Cup quarter-final to come tonight at Sunderland, Cech feels there are plenty of reasons to be positive.

'It's very good to go through this period with as many points as you can get to be in a good position because the amount of games the top teams will play at the beginning of the New Year could be decisive,' said the Chelsea goalkeeper.

'Sometimes you work to improve things and it takes a little bit longer than you would like but as long as the boss is happy with the progression of the team then everything is going in the direction we want.

'Beating Palace was very important because we knew Arsenal lost points at Manchester City, so we had to close the gap. We've stayed in front of City and closed the gap to Arsenal.

'We topped the group in the Champions League, we are playing to reach the semi-final in the League Cup and we are two points off the top of the Premier League, so we are in a good position. There is room for improvement but it's very encouraging.'

With so many games to play, the festive period is historically tricky to navigate, and the games keep on coming.

The trip to Sunderland is followed by our visit to Arsenal, while December draws to a close with consecutive home matches against Swansea City and Liverpool.

Cech acknowledged the significance of this month, but feels our experience could prove beneficial.

'We are a team who, in the last 10 years, have had a busy schedule, so we are used to it,' he said.

'We have to know how to play games every third day and for the teams who are not used to that it can be tricky. We know what to expect and we have the squad to get through it.

'It's far away from the end of the season so at this point all you can do is try to get through a very busy period picking up as many points as you can game by game. Obviously, when you approach March and April the pressure starts rising a little bit.

'Even if the spotlight is on us we are used to that so we will just try to keep working quietly and try to reach our targets over the season.'

Next week's game against Arsenal will be seen by many as our biggest match of the season to date. The Blues have an impressive record at the Emirates, and having already won there this season in the Capital One Cup, Cech believes we will approach the game in a confident manner.

'It's a massive game for both teams,' said Cech. 'If Arsenal want to stay top they need to win but if we win it will twist a lot in the table.

'It will be slightly different (to the Capital One Cup game) because they made some changes and we made some changes, but it's good to know that we can do it. We would like to repeat the performance and control we had in that match.'