There is also the matter of Chelsea’s ascendancy over Spurs in recent years, ironically a record I helped preserve during my time there as manager! But it was particularly close here in last season’s league game when the Blues snatched the points in injury time while our Worthington Cup victory last January did a lot for our confidence because it showed what can be achieved.
So we are a lot closer now in terms of quality than maybe we were before.
But it’s difficult for London clubs with so many derbies putting so much pressure on the players. This is something that no other clubs in the country have to contend with but here in the capital every inter-London clash adds to our difficulty because we’re all taking points of one another.
I was delighted with our success in our last game here against Bolton for a number of reasons. As with Southampton, West Ham and Bolton, we have shown great determination and authority when teams have drawn level with us in games to kick on and win. That’s something we were not doing enough of last season and we did it again at Liverpool last week when we came back before narrowly losing on that penalty.
Another thing that delighted me at that Bolton game was the response of our fans with fantastic support from start to finish. People have since spoken to me about how impressive the atmosphere was here during that game and to have a near full house late on a cold Sunday afternoon just shows how you our supporters are so totally behind us which we all appreciate. Don’t doubt that the players are aware of your enthusiasm and encouragement and it does make a major difference for them throughout games.
The way that our crowd is getting behind the team is a very positive vibe and it was good to have you there again at Liverpool where I was pleased with our performance but as frustrated as anyone with the result. As at Manchester United, we battled well at Anfield and although we lost by a penalty in both, we have to content ourselves with the fact that we are making solid progress which was there for all to see.
We are now well into a period of extremely difficult games and this will be the real test of just how we are going. After today, we face three very tough away games with the trip to Burnley in the Worthington Cup in midweek followed by Sunderland and Arsenal.
John Gorman and I went to Leicester to see Burnley and Chris Hughton saw them at Ipswich so we know a great deal about them. And there’s no doubt that they will be a tough nut to crack. Although they have had indifferent results — including the recent 6-5 defeat at Grimsby — they are a very good footballing side and we’re going to have to play very well to get the result that we need up there. It will certainly be a testing cup tie.
So we’ve got some really tough fixtures to come, at home and away, but this is the sort of challenge that we’re looking forward to. If we come through these games with good results then our self-belief will grow even more and we can build on that to go on to achieve even better things.
We are also getting our full squad back together again and, although that’s a slow business, it does mean that if we do get people injured in that period, then we have the back up to deal with it and to face up to these growing challenges with confidence.
Once again get behind the team and really make the difference!
A warm welcome to all from Chelsea where I enjoyed my time and retain many happy memories of Stamford Bridge. This is going to be a particularly good game with both teams on the same points and determined to maintain their status in the leading Premiership group with victory today.