STURRIDGE: HEADS UP
There was frustration that Chelsea were taken to a replay by a lower division club at the weekend but goalscorer Daniel Sturridge saw signs the team is beginning to move in the right direction.
The 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham came seven days after what was genuinely accepted as the season's low point in terms of performance - the defeat away to Everton.
Sturridge's second-half header on Saturday may have been the only time the opposition net was found but the 22-year-old saw more in the side's play which was right compared with at Goodison Park.
'We are disappointed of course because playing on our home turf against a team from a division below we wanted to get a victory and move on,' Sturridge said, looking back at the FA Cup tie, 'but we go into the Champions League with confidence because we played some good football and we are not going to forget that going into the next game.
'I think it is the final ball [that needs to improve],' he noted. 'If we could make more connecting passes I think we would maybe score a lot more goals, and maybe the crosses coming in from out wide are not penetrating as much as they can, but we were unfortunate not to win the game and the performance shows we are improving from the game played against Everton.
'We are working hard in training and the standard has risen since the last couple of games. We know what we have got to do and we are not losing sight of that.'
Sturridge's well-guided header came after two of the best balls of the match - Juan Mata's pass out to Branislav Ivanovic which was followed by a great cross from the Serbian who had moved forward from right-back. It took Sturridge back level with Frank Lampard as club top scorer on 11 goals.
'The goal was important for me personally but in terms of the team we wanted that goal to push us on to getting the second but it was unfortunate we didn't do that. We tried our hardest out there to the very end.
'Birmingham are a good side. They are not a standard championship squad, they are a Premier League club playing in the Championship and I would never underestimate them. I know that club very well and I knew they would come here and play good football and it was important for us to be concentrated.'
Now Sturridge will be hoping to find the net for the first time in the Champions League this season as Chelsea take on Napoli at the start of the knockout stage.
'They [Napoli] have some great individuals as well as a good team but we have the same and we are not going to worry about what they have got,' he said.
'We have to go out there with the attitude that they have got to worry about what we have got. I am certainly not worried about that and we are going out there with the state of mind that we can win the game and play some good football, maybe get some more opportunities and put them away.
'I don't think it is a defining week for the club but hopefully we don't get in the same situation as against Birmingham where we have to come from behind.
'We are all together as one and we are not a divided unit. We are a family and we've got a good unit going here and I think maybe we will see that in the next few games.'