Gary Cahill and Chelsea braced for Tottenham test
Visit to in-form Spurs represents a major challenge for Conte’s league leaders
Chelsea’s Gary Cahill: “We’re getting this run and we’re getting this success through hard work and through everyone chipping in.” Photograph by Ian Walton/Getty Images
The Blues won for a 13th straight game on Saturday, beating Stoke 4-2, and lead the Premier League by six points from Liverpool entering 2017.
And after equalling Arsenal’s single-season record, Antonio Conte’s men can draw level on the Gunners’ tally of 14 straight wins with victory at White Hart Lane.
Cahill said Chelsea’s record bid is not a topic for discussion among the squad and says it is imperative the players maintain the same approach which has served them well in their three-month unbeaten sequence.
Stoke provided Antonio Conte’s men with one of their toughest tests and Bruno Martins Indi cancelled out Cahill’s opener just after half-time.
Willian put Chelsea back in front but Peter Crouch netted his first Premier League goal in two seasons to equalise in the 64th minute.
However, parity lasted just a minute before Willian netted again, and Diego Costa made sure of victory with a fourth in the 85th minute for the league leaders.
“We’re on a terrific run, but we realise it’s a game everyone’s going to be speaking about,” said Cahill.
“It’s not because it’s Tottenham that’s going to change in our preparation, the way we go about things.
“It’s going to be exactly the same and we expect exactly the same from each and every player come kick-off time and we’ll be okay.”
Chelsea’s only loss since the September 24 defeat at Arsenal was in the EFL Cup at West Ham, with Tottenham among those sides dispatched in recent weeks.
“It’s not been something we’ve spoken about,” Cahill added. “It’s not like all week we’ve been saying ‘we want this record, we want this record’.
“We’ve just kept going. And I think that’s the right mentality to have.
“Being aware of the record and wanting to achieve them, there’s nothing wrong with that. For sure I want to achieve it.
“Every player wants to be a part of records – I’m not shy about saying that – but it’s not something we speak about.
“We just have to keep focused on the job that we’re doing.
“We’re getting this run and we’re getting this success through hard work and through everyone chipping in with their part in the game. That’s the mentality we should have. That shouldn’t change.”
Conte thinks teams will now have a greater incentive to beat Chelsea than just claiming three points. Willian, who scored twice against Stoke, agrees.
He said: “We’re doing well. I think we have to continue in the same way. I think it will be more difficult to win because the other teams will come against us with more concentration.”
Stoke are now winless in five games ahead of Tuesday’s match at home to Watford. Potters boss Mark Hughes was optimistic after the Chelsea loss and hopes to conclude a deal to make Lee Grant’s loan move from Derby permanent in the next few days.
Grant was excellent at Stamford Bridge, keeping Stoke in the contest until the Blues’ late rally.
Hughes said on stokecityfc.com: “That’s something we’re close to concluding which is important because of the situation with Jack Butland [who is injured].
“I’m hoping we’ll have some positive news on that front in the next couple of days.”