MALOUDA: EXCUSES ARE FOR LOSERS
Florent Malouda has been speaking about his desire to put an end to a recent run of poor form on a personal level, as well as the squad's collective hunger to revert back to winning ways ahead of a vital Champions League clash at Bayer Leverkusen.
The Frenchman was keen to stress the importance of taking maximum points from our penultimate group stage game in the BayArena, ensuring qualification for the knockout stages of the competition, but more importantly, averting a dangerous scenario which could see us needing to beat Valencia at home in our final group game in order to avoid elimination from the tournament.
'It's hard to pinpoint a particular reason for our current form, but we need to correct it, and the perfect opportunity is tomorrow,' he said. 'We have faced a lot of adversity this season, but it's pretty simple; win tomorrow and we will be back on track.'
Manager Andre Villas-Boas has come in for some serious criticism from sections of the media in recent weeks, but Malouda insists that while negative headlines are part and parcel of life at a top club in the modern game, it's the players, and not the manager, who should ultimately shoulder the blame.
'For top teams who are not performing, criticism is normal, but we trust each other and that's the perfect attitude.
'We, the players, take responsibility. The solution is not to blame the manager; we go on to the pitch and perform either well or badly. We have all the ingredients at the club to perform and we have done it in the past.'
Malouda has started successive matches in the Barclays Premier League, and after a fairly quiet first half showing against Liverpool on Sunday, he began to impose himself in the second period, setting up Daniel Sturridge for our equaliser, before almost scoring himself with an outrageous acrobatic effort.
However, the 31-year-old readily admits he needs to improve on his own individual performances in order to rediscover the form which made him such an integral part of our Double-winning squad two seasons ago.
'I need to step up as it's obviously not enough at the moment, but I'm not the type of player who will blame the referee, the state of the pitch or the weather. Excuses are for losers, and I want to win,' he said. 'That's not how you become a top player. I need to do more and I'm fully aware of that.'
On the match itself, Malouda is expecting a difficult encounter against a well-organised side who more than held their own for long spells in the game at Stamford Bridge back in September.
'We know how well they can play, and we know all about the speed of their strikers and wingers, but we are coming here to win, and we want to try to control the game. We know how important it is in terms of the knockout stages to finish top of the group.'