John Terry has challenged his Chelsea team-mates to put their painful Champions League defeat against Paris Saint-Germain behind them when they resume their Premier League title challenge against Southampton on Sunday.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho responded to the frustrating midweek loss to 10-man PSG by declaring his confidence in his players’ ability to bounce back after their bid for European success came to an abrupt halt.
And his squad can justify that faith by tightening their grip at the top of the table with victory over Ronald Koeman’s side at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho’s men are five points clear of second-placed Manchester City having played a game less than their nearest rivals.
But the visit of a Southampton side aiming for a top four spot will provide a test of Chelsea’s resilience as the Blues attempt to add the English title to their League Cup triumph earlier this month.
And Chelsea captain Terry admits there was no time for the players to feel sorry for themselves if they are to maintain their title bid.
“We have to pick ourselves up and go again at the weekend because it’s another big game against a very good Southampton side,” Terry said.
“We’ve got the League Cup out of the way, that’s in our pocket, and now the Premier League is all we’ve got.
“It’s a massive one to go for, we’re a few points clear and we need to keep that gap. We can only do that by responding and picking up three points at the weekend.
“We can’t stay down because Southampton will come here on the front foot, they’re playing well and if we’re not at it we’ll drop points.”
– Hunger games –
Mourinho revealed he had held a meeting with his players to dissect the PSG loss.
And he points to the fact none of his players reported fresh injuries after that game as evidence of the hunger within his squad to put things right.
“My doctor told me, after the game, maybe tomorrow you’ll have a few injuries. Why? Because we lost, because people are sad,” he said.
“Maybe there’ll be a couple of injuries. But zero injuries. Everybody wants to play.”
Chelsea’s away goals exit on Wednesday did not go unnoticed down at Southampton however.
Southampton have dropped to seventh after winning just one of their last four games, but right-back Nathaniel Clyne believes Saints can capitalise on Chelsea’s woes.
“We saw them play against PSG and thought they looked a bit tired. Hopefully, we can capitalise on that,” he said.
“We are fresh at the moment and, if we take the game to them, we can cause an upset.
“If we play the game we can play, it will be a good game, and hopefully we can get the points.
“It will be difficult – Chelsea are a good team with quality players, but we are up for the challenge.”
Clyne and his team-mates have enjoyed a 12-day break since their 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace and flew out to Switzerland for a training camp.
The decision of manager Koeman to spurn the usual warm weather trip and head for the snow instead raised eyebrows but the Dutchman believes the contrast will benefit his side in the run-in.
“It was a good trip. It was something different, totally different to what we’re normally doing on a daily basis,” he said.
“It was a different world, with different altitude to do some activities away from football and that was the most important. We came back to the training sessions this week to prepare for Chelsea.
“I also spoke to the team captains, Kelvin Davis and Jose Fonte about the trip. They mentioned Dubai and not snow but I said it was a good idea for the club.
“Some players were sceptical but everybody had a great time there.”
Photo Credits : AFP