BERTRAND: DIGGING IN
With the games coming thick and fast as we enter the business end of the season, the Blues take on Leicester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and Ryan Bertrand believes we are hitting form at exactly the right moment.
After the pulsating Champions League win against Napoli in midweek, our attention now turns to the oldest cup competition in the world, and with a Wembley semi-final within touching distance, the stakes, as Bertrand admits, couldn't be higher.
'The FA Cup is massive, if you look at the season and where we've been, we're now only one game away from a semi-final in the FA Cup and one game away from a semi-final in the Champions League,' he says.
'We've got some big games coming up which will give us a chance to claw back a good league position as well so it's all looking good, but we need to take each game as it comes and keep digging in and getting the right results.'
Aside from the fourth round victory against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road, the young left-back has featured in every game of our cup campaign so far, playing the full 90 minutes in both the initial match and the replay against Birmingham in the last round.
He emerged from both matches with a great deal of credit for two composed, mature performances at a time when the side as a whole were struggling for confidence, but insists he is his own biggest critic.
'I was pleased with my performances in the Birmingham games, and hopefully I will get the opportunity against Leicester on Sunday to show what I can do again,' says Bertrand.
'I've noticed in the last couple of games people have said to me that I did well, but in myself I thought there were a couple of things I needed to brush up on, but that all comes if I'm playing regularly, I just have to deal with the situation and try to keep sharp for when I'm called upon.'
The game against Leicester, coming hot on the heels of a gruelling 120 minutes of action against Napoli on Wednesday, will undoubtedly provide a stern test for interim first team coach Roberto Di Matteo and his in-form side.
The Foxes will be backed by 6,000 passionate supporters, and in David Nugent, Jermaine Beckford and Darius Vassell, they have players with a proven goalscoring pedigree in the top-flight, and Bertrand knows we will need to be at our best to ensure progression.
'It will be another tough one; the problem we have at the moment is that each game we approach is different,' says the 22-year-old.
'We've obviously got our league matches, and then games in the Champions League where you're playing against European clubs which is a completely different affair, and then we play in the FA Cup at the weekend against a Championship side which, again, is another challenge.
'It's important to adapt to the way various teams play, Leicester will come with a lot of hard work, desire and they will really want to win the game, so we have to be up for it and make sure we match that.'
The managerial reshuffle which saw Di Matteo take charge following the departure of Andre Villas-Boas two weeks ago has reaped instant rewards, with three successive victories.
Bertrand, however, insists that the squad are keeping their feet firmly on the ground as we attempt to finish strongly on three fronts.
'I think, like Robbie said, we just need to dig in for these next few months and make sure we finish in a good league position, as well as trying to continue to get results in the cup competitions,' he says.