MALOUDA: BALANCING ACT
One quality more than any other was important for the team's progress into the fourth round of the FA Cup reckons Florent Malouda - the ability not to panic.
The Frenchman returned to the starting line up for the first time since the Carling Cup game against Liverpool at the end of November. It was the first time he began in the front three since a league game against the same opposition nine days prior to that.
It was Malouda who created the first goal against Portsmouth with a dash to the by line and pull back for Juan Mata to score. It was a fine way to begin the second half and a cause of great relief around Stamford Bridge after a goalless opening 45 minutes.
'Especially with the recent results we had at home, we know that there is anxiety in the crowd when you don't get the result in the first half,' Malouda acknowledged, 'so we had to be patient and keep the right balance of not conceding a goal and then trying to score the first goal, and after the first try to carry on.
'Especially in the first half it was difficult for us to find a solution, it was difficult to break down Portsmouth's defence and it made a big difference with the first goal. After that it was more a counter-attack game for us and we scored three goals in the last 10 minutes, but most of the game Portsmouth gave us a hard time.'
It was good organisation, a defensive approach and hard work from the south-coast side from a division below that had thwarted the Blues before the opening goal, rather than any complacency on our behalf insists Malouda, even if Pompey had a good chance inside the first minute.
'We started the game with a lot of respect for Portsmouth and we know that they were expecting a good result, especially in the FA Cup, so when it was difficult for us in the first half we had to stay calm.
'This win is very important for a team like Chelsea because we need a good run and a positive result to keep the confidence to compete with the best teams in the country and the best teams in Europe.
'We have a lot of important games coming and to have a positive mentality you need the results, so it is very important, especially with the home games, to be able to win every time.'