DI MATTEO: FULL OF CONFIDENCE
Roberto Di Matteo believes patience will be the key as he continues with the implementation of a more expansive style of play.
The Blues have earned plenty of plaudits for the free-flowing football which has been on display for the majority of the season thus far, but while our attacking play, for the most part, has been a joy to watch, in recent weeks it has come at a cost defensively, with 14 goals conceded in our last six games.
With John Terry's four-match domestic ban now complete, there is the possibility he could come back into the side, and the manager acknowledged that we may have missed the captain's organisational skills, particularly in the 3-2 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
'Changes need time and in football time is precious,' said the Italian. 'I believe in something and I want to continue to go that way. The players believe in it, which is the most important factor, and hopefully in the future Chelsea can continue to play in this style.
'There's always a compromise you need to make, but I am 100 per cent sure we will improve that part of our game. Personnel sometimes helps, but the players playing regularly together, and the work that we do, will improve that.
With Liverpool, and an in-form Luis Suarez, up next at Stamford Bridge tomorrow afternoon, our defensive capabilities look set to be tested to the limit once more.
The Merseyside outfit, now under the guidance of former Chelsea reserve manager Brendan Rodgers, have had a mixed start to the season, but having won on their past three visits to Stamford Bridge, we will undoubtedly need to be at our best in order to record our first win in the league since the 4-2 victory against Tottenham Hotspur.
'They seem to be our bogey team for whatever reason,' explained Di Matteo. 'Whenever they play against us they have one of their best games of the season.
'They've played against us at times when we've not been at our best, but at the moment we are looking very good, very sharp and full of confidence. I think we will throw different kinds of questions at Liverpool on Sunday than we have in the past.
'They have a very good squad; you look at their players and there's a lot of Premier League experience in their team. They have a few youngsters, but we do as well, so from that point of view I think it's quite even.'
The Uruguayan striker has been in a rich vein of form of late, scoring in successive league games against Everton and Newcastle United.
Di Matteo is, of course, wary of the threat posed by Suarez, but feels accusations that Liverpool have become too reliant on the forward are slightly unfair.
'We'll have to be very focused,' he said. 'Not just on Suarez, because he's not the only one, but we'll have to pay some attention to his movement and threat because he's an extremely dangerous player for them.
'Every team likes to have a top scorer, other teams have them as well. We played Swansea last week and Michu seems to be the one for them, but every team has one top man. Manchester United have Robin van Persie, although they have other options, but he seems to be very important when he plays for them.
'I've been watching Liverpool and analysing the way they play and the options they have when they are attacking. We'll obviously talk about that with the team, and we'll need to limit the balls into Suarez as much as we can.'
Rather than focusing solely on the opposition, however, the Blues boss was eager to turn his attention towards the strengths of his own team, and he has been particularly impressed with the efforts of our midweek hero, Victor Moses, who followed up his goal at Swansea last weekend with the winner against Shakhtar in the Champions League.
'He started in Nordsjaelland, his first Champions League game, and against Swansea as well,' said Di Matteo. 'He's doing very well and improving continually, I'm pleased with his contribution and progress.
'It's difficult because he's come into a club where there's huge pressure to win every game, so for him it's an adjustment to this kind of pressure, but I'm pleased for him.'
Meanwhile, pressed on whether he would be dipping into the transfer market to compensate for the loss of John Mikel Obi, who will be involved in the African Cup of Nations in January, Di Matteo was keeping his cards close to his chest.
He did, however, stress that there is more than enough quality within the squad to ensure we can cope sufficiently without the services of the Nigerian midfielder.
'Ramires can do a lot of defending, he's maybe not a holding midfielder but he can play there,' said the manager. 'When Lampard was playing there he did a very good job in offering protection as well, it's a question of chipping in.
'We have Oriol Romeu, who's been playing a bit more lately and started against Swansea last week, but we'll have to wait and see in January. Hopefully Lampard will be back soon so that will give us another option in there.'