15 Dec Cahill hails team spirit
Gary Cahill has put Chelsea’s surge clear at the top of the Premier League table down to team spirit and miserly defence.
The Blues head into Saturday’s clash with struggling Crystal Palace with a six-point advantage over Liverpool and Arsenal after Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory at Sunderland, their 10th consecutive maximum points haul in a run which has seen them concede just two goals.
However, they are acutely aware that the campaign is still only 16 games old and Cahill knows they will have to maintain the standards they have set if they are to build upon a blistering start.
He told Chelsea TV: “You knock those stats out and at this moment in time, it’s difficult to criticise that. I’m sure there will be people out there who can have a go at criticising it, but at this moment in time, we are going well.
“But I know more than anyone, football goes week by week, month by month. We want to keep this going and continue the good spirit that’s in our camp at the minute. That’s the most important thing for us.”
Chelsea dominated possession at the Stadium of Light and secured the points through Cesc Fabregas’ first league goal of the campaign five minutes before the break.
However, had keeper Thibaut Courtois not made fine saves from Adnan Januzaj and Patrick van Aanholt, the second of them in the third minute of stoppage time, they might have left Wearside with significantly less to show for their efforts.
Cahill said: “We are not letting goals in, we are keeping clean sheets at the minute. Thibaut pulled off two vital saves for us, so obviously a big shout to Thibaut for the one at his legs, and the one late on was terrific, so he showed his worth for us.
“Although I didn’t think he had loads to do, that’s what top keepers do. A couple of key moments and he produced.”
Courtois’ save from Van Aanholt at the death was of the highest quality with Sunderland boss David Moyes admitting he thought it was in until the Belgium international threw himself to his right to claw the ball away.
Cahill said: “For me, it was how sharp it was. He [Van Aanholt] hit it so well, the pace was phenomenal, so for a big guy to get across the goal as quickly as he did was phenomenal. That’s why the second one was special.
“We owed him late on for that, but defensively, we are making blocks, we are putting our heads in the way, clearing the ball and letting the lads go forward and create, which they did on numerous occasions.
“We did have opportunities to go two in front, we didn’t take them, but we kept going and that’s the sort of attitude we have got at the minute. We never give up, we keep pushing and pushing until the very end and it’s getting us results.”