CECH: THINKING BIG
Following Saturday's draw with Spurs, Petr Cech acknowledges a testing close to the season is ahead but is hopeful the depth in the Chelsea squad can overcome the challenge.
A single point taken against a team ahead of us leaves little margin for error in the remaining league matches and with Chelsea the only club still in both Europe and the FA Cup, ours is a more crowded fixture list than those we are chasing.
'The good thing is we don't have many injuries, we have people coming in and out of the team and we have been rotating the squad, and this is something that can help us in the end,' points out Cech.
'But there are so many games, every three or four days all the time, and we need to make sure that we recover well.
'There are still 24 points to play for,' the goalkeeper adds, 'and 24 points is a lot so in that period you could overturn a five-point deficit, but you need to make sure you win all your games or the majority of the games. The match against Tottenham was a good result for them and not great for us because we wanted to put them under pressure. But I believe there is still a chance to close the gap and finish fourth, so this is the aim for the rest of the season.'
Finishing outside the top four would, unless we win the Champions League this season, mean no chance to play in the major European competition next season. Cech makes it clear the players fully understand the significance, stating that not playing in the Champions League would be 'a year lost in the progression of the club'.
'You always have years when you go through transition and the team needs to be rebuilt,' he continues, 'or you have changes in terms of manager or players.
'For a big club you can still accept that the team doesn't win a league because it is in a transition year, but you can't really afford to slip out the Champions League spots. The big teams are about Champions League and one season out will make a difference because it will slow down the process and trying to hunt for other trophies, but it is not going to be the end of Chelsea because I believe we are going to come back anyway.'
Cech had to make good saves at the end of each half against Tottenham to keep the game scoreless and he believes the importance of the encounter led to a cagey game.
'We started pushing in the last few minutes for a winner and that is why they had more space to counter attack, so that resulted in a free-kick in the last minute as well and some breaks when they didn't get a shot in.
'We needed to be careful but in the first half they were happy with 0-0. Their first shot came in the last minute of the half when they had a good chance, but until then the game was really quiet. We were in control in terms of defending but we didn't press them enough or push them enough to create chances.
'You could see from the first 45 minutes how much the game meant to both teams but the 0-0 was better for them so they tried to slow the game and not really make mistakes.'