CECH: CLOSING THE GAP
Petr Cech believes making ourselves more difficult to break down has been the main factor behind our recent impressive run of form.
The 1-0 win away at Norwich City on Boxing Day was our third successive victory in the league, as well as our fourth clean sheet under Rafael Benitez, taking us to within four points of Manchester City with a game in hand.
Much has been made of our ruthlessness in front of goal in recent weeks, particularly in the wake of last Sunday's 8-0 demolition of Aston Villa, but Cech feels it's at the other end of the pitch where the most important change has taken place.
'It's great to win 1-0 because it shows we battled to the end and we were well organised,' said the Blues goalkeeper. 'Also, we were patient enough to score one goal and control the game until the end, so that's a very good sign.
'We look more organised. We were conceding far too many goals and we were too open. We've been defending much better as a team and that's been the key, because we weren't defending well.
'We are back to being difficult to score against, which is a big help, and of course we have quality players who can score goals.
'You need the whole team to defend. We have very attack-minded players and sometimes we weren't making the right choices in terms of defensive transitions, we are pressing the ball much better now so it gives us more time to re-organise, I think that's been the most significant change.'
Next up for the Blues is a tricky trip to take on an in-form Everton on Sunday. Having lost on our previous three league visits to Goodison Park, there is little doubt that we will need to be at our very best in order to make it 12 points from four matches.
David Moyes' side are unbeaten in front of their own supporters so far this season, but Cech, who is set to make his 400th appearance for the club on Merseyside, stressed the importance of heading back to the capital with another win under our belt.
'There are so many games to play, we go to Everton next, which is never easy, but we've closed the gap on Manchester City,' he explained.
'We need to keep picking up points to get as close to Manchester United and Manchester City. Hopefully we can pick up another three points at Everton which would be a really big win.
'We will go there wanting to win the game. If you don't play well and your opponent is playing much better and hammering you all game, but you survive with a point, you can say that's a good point. But from the start, you always want to win wherever you go, and that will be the case again.
'When you have a difficult moment and you are behind, you have to go on a run of games where you get three points, that's the only way to close the gap and take advantage when other teams slip up. It's not easy to do all the time but that's the objective.'
It was Juan Mata's strike which proved decisive at Carrow Road, the Spaniard netting his 13th goal of the campaign with a delightful effort from outside the penalty area.
Mata, who has become a hugely influential player for the club since moving from Valencia in the summer of 2011, has already surpassed his goal tally from last season.
Cech acknowledged his importance to the side, and also paid tribute to Victor Moses, who has enjoyed a sustained run in the team of late.
'Mata always finds the space for himself to shoot and recently he's been converting his chances,' explained Cech.
'It's very good, you need a player with his creativity to create space for the others and find a nice gap between the lines, so it's to the benefit of everyone playing with him.
'For Victor, it's never easy when you leave Wigan Athletic to come to a club who has just won the Champions League due to the expectations.
'He was settling in, playing good games and scoring important goals, but he is now becoming more confident and more comfortable.
'He's a very good addition, he's technically very strong but also fast, and it's always dangerous for a defender playing against speed.'