Over the past half-decade, Gary Cahill has been present for some of Chelsea’s greatest triumphs. That night in Munich. That night in Amsterdam. Partnering John Terry in 2014-15, or two years later, reinvented in Conte’s back three for Premier League titles. He’s won it all, and he knows what it takes to win it all.
“I think if you are in a good position after Christmas and coming into January, you feel like you have a chance. There are loads of games to play until then, a lot can happen. It’s just a matter of going from one weekend to the next and building a momentum.”
“It’s great when you go back into training after getting three points. It’s the same going into training today after winning in the Europa League [against BATE Borisov] last night. It’s much better than going in after a loss. That’s why I say momentum is key and we have that right now.”
Cahill, who remains the official club captain by all indications, has always talked about confidence and momentum as deciding factors. Chelsea are usually one of the best teams in England, raw talent-wise, these days, but it’s the mental concentration and fortitude that separates the winners from the losers.
That’s especially true in a year that promises to be extra dramatic. At the quarter-mark of the season, the top five are separated by just two points. One of those teams is on an 11-match winning run in all competitions, one is on a 13-match unbeaten run in all competitions, three are unbeaten in the league, and one of them is Spurs.
“I have been here loads of times and before Christmas you don’t see where it is going to go.
”Arsenal are on an incredible run of form at the minute. When they lost at our place [in August] and already points off the top, people were writing them off. All of a sudden they have been in unbelievable form. That’s what can happen. We did it the last time we won the League after losing at Arsenal and at home to Liverpool. Then we won 13 games in a row, which is why people should wait till the new year.”
But to get to the new year and still be in with a chance, Chelsea must stay within touching distance. Maurizio Sarri’s start to his Chelsea career has been nothing short of amazing, but frailties have been exposed in recent matches and the Blues have dropped six points in the last four league games (1 win and 3 draws). That trend must not continue if Chelsea are to maintain a possible title challenge. The Premier League title cannot be won in the fall, but it certainly can be lost.
“[The battle for the Premier League] is certainly going to be tight this season. As far as the Burnley game goes, these are the matches you need to win if you are going to compete at the top. This is a very difficult game - going away to Burnley. Everyone knows that. These are the fixtures you have to churn out the victories in. That is how I have seen it over the years and this season will be no different.”
“We are prepared, the form is good, the momentum is good. There is nothing in that regard to fear. We are very respectful of how strong Burnley are at home - they proved that last season.”
Chelsea’s next three opponents in the Premier League are Burnley (away) and back-to-back home ties against Crystal Palace and Everton. That’s nine points that we must have, before the November international break leads us into the hectic holiday period and a step up in schedule difficulty.
One game at a time of course. Cahill may be part of the second-string these days, but if there’s a title hunt on, he’ll be surely helping to sniff out the way. Let’s go!