Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Ballack boosted by Liverpool's struggles

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack says the Blues have taken extra motivation from Liverpool's inconsistent start to the season.

The Reds, expected to be one of Chelsea's rivals for the Barclays Premier League title this season, lost two of their opening three opening games.

Chelsea remain top of the table with four wins out of four under new coach Carlo Ancelotti.

But, according to Ballack, Liverpool's stuttering start to the campaign has been a source of inspiration for Chelsea.

"It was a surprise that Liverpool lost twice in the first three games and it gives us extra motivation," said Ballack. "All we can do is win games. We have to focus on ourselves and if we play the best we can we can win the league."

Ballack, who has scored two goals so far this season, himself claims to be in top condition after a summer without an international tournament.

Even though his tour of America was curtailed by a minor toe injury, it was not a major setback for the Germany captain.

"It was a good pre-season," said Ballack. "The finish to last season with Guus Hiddink, the team looked well and played good football and that is what we have done at the beginning of this season.

"The coach is always important to put a good atmosphere in the team and since Carlo Ancelotti arrived he has brought the team back together.

"We are always happy when we are in first position. It is early in the season and we know there is a lot to do to keep this position, but the victories have given us a lot of confidence."

Ballack's confidence in Ancelotti's new system and their fine start to the campaign is echoed by goalkeeper Petr Cech.

The 27-year-old heaped praise on the new formation selected by the Italian coach.

Chelsea have been a revelation under Ancelotti's 'diamond' formation at home and a '4-3-2-1' system on their travels.

Cech is currently on international duty preparing for the Czech Republic's World Cup qualifiers against Slovakia and San Marino but says Chelsea's position at the top flight summit is fully deserved.

"In the first place we are playing with a different system," said Cech. "There is no problem about it though, as we have adopted it quite quickly.

"The advantage was that the team had been working well even before Mr Ancelotti came in, and it helped that we stayed together as a team."

The Blues cruised to a 3-0 win over Burnley on Saturday and while the side played some scintillating football against the top flight new boys, Cech is refusing to get carried away.

"Everyone knows that the season will be long and demanding, every single point counts," added Cech.

"Even the teams which will be at the bottom end of the table at the end of the season fighting against the drop are trying to pick up as many points as possible.

"So far we have played against clubs which belong near the middle of the table. The pressure has been on us, because they had nothing to lose.

"Everyone expected us to have maximum points, which we have deservedly achieved so far."

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