Belfast Telegraph

Cahill and Co keep their focus

Gary Cahill insists Chelsea's trophy charge would not be derailed by the Mark Clattenburg affair after helping them stay in the Capital One Cup by the skin of their teeth.

The European champions teetered on the brink of elimination before completing a sensational comeback to beat Manchester United 5-4 after extra-time.

"It's important that we don't let anything affect us and we showed that won't happen," Cahill said. "Whatever is going on off the pitch, players relish playing football."

Had Eden Hazard not made it 3-3 with the last kick of normal time from the penalty spot, more serious questions would have been asked of what would have been Chelsea's third successive defeat, an unprecedented slump in a single season during the Roman Abramovich era.

The fact it would have come on the back of the club's allegations that referee Clattenburg used "inappropriate language" towards John Obi Mikel - something Clattenburg is understood to strenuously deny - would have led to even more parallels being drawn with what befell them last season.

As in Sunday's bitter Barclays Premier League defeat to United, Chelsea saw two players sent off in their 1-0 defeat at QPR in October 2011 before becoming embroiled in the John Terry racism row.

Then manager Andre Villas-Boas pinpointed that match as the catalyst for the downward spiral that saw him sacked. Cahill, who joined Chelsea in January at the height of the Terry scandal, was one of only five Chelsea players from Sunday's XI against United to start Wednesday night's revenge mission.

"I had never felt as angry and disappointed about a game two days later and we really wanted to put that right," he added. "Although we were very unfortunate on Sunday, it was important that we got back to winning ways after two sticky results, especially against Manchester United."

There was no escaping the Clattenburg affair for Chelsea, even in the quarter-final draw of the League Cup, which saw them handed a trip to old foes Leeds just 24 hours after Neil Warnock lambasted them over their handling of the matter.

"I know there is a bit of history and atmosphere between the two clubs so it's set up nicely for a great game," he said of the tie, which will take place at Elland Road on December 19 due to the European champions' involvement in the Club World Cup in Japan.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph