Gary Cahill felt we showed tremendous character to go away from home and win a tough London derby after watching both Manchester City and Tottenham, our closest challengers, secure victories on Sunday.
The Blues moved 10 points clear of second-placed Tottenham courtesy of Mondy night’s 2-1 win at West Ham United, with Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on target for Antonio Conte’s side.
From the moment Hazard rounded off a brilliant break to give us a first-half lead we always looked in control of the game and Cahill, who excelled alongside David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta, said it was a deserved victory.
‘It was important we did (respond),’ said the defender. ‘At times this season we’ve played first and managed to get a result and this time it was their turn. The pressure was on us in that sense, I’m sure they were watching and hoping we’d lose so it was important we got the result. I felt we did enough to get the win.
‘We showed character, like we have this season, and I felt it could have been over in the first half. We could have had two or three with the counter attacks but it wasn’t to be. The second goal killed the game so we’re delighted, we just want to chalk the games off. It could have been a sticky game so it was important we won.
‘Everyone’s fighting to win the league and we’ve put ourselves in a good position. We’ve worked tremendously hard up until this point but there are a lot of games to go. It’s a funny month, we have the FA Cup next week and then we have one league game and the international break.
‘I spoke before the game, saying we had two big games to play and going into April in a healthy position should be our aim. We’ve now played one of those two and got the first one out of the way.’
With a number of Conte’s squad having previously won the Premier League title, either at Chelsea or elsewhere, Cahill explained how that can work to our advantage.
‘Experience comes into play at this stage of the season especially but we know what we have to do. We’ve been working hard and doing the same things all season.
‘Nothing should change. Our focus shouldn’t change, our mindset shouldn’t change, the way we work shouldn’t change. Everything should be the same as what it has been.
‘The experience helps when you go to a place like West Ham and you need to be patient. We could have had two or three in the first half, but we just needed to be patient and then it went 1-0.'
As Cahill pointed out, the Blues only play one more league game this month, away at Stoke City, but with a minimum of five matches to follow in April, he wants his team-mates to remain focused and continue working hard on the training pitch in order to ensure there is no possibility of our high standards dropping.
'We’re top of the league for a reason,' said Cahill. 'We’ve been working hard, playing well, not conceding and scoring goals. We just want to keep that going but I can’t stress enough, it’s not over. We’ve got a difficult month next month but we’re focused. We don’t listen to any noise, we know what we’re doing and we’re ready to see it over the line.
'When we won the league two years ago we were eight points clear of Man City and then all of a sudden we were level on goal difference, so I know the points can disappear and that’s why we need to keep focused. If everyone’s aware of that, and we keep the hunger and focus that’s in the squad, we’ll be okay.'