Belfast Telegraph

Petr refuses to keep check on Chelsea’s lack of clean sheets

By Matt Butler

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is clearly buying into manager Andre Villas-Boas's mantra of “letting the talent flow freely”, such is his nonchalance at his failure to keep clean sheets this season.

Cech, whose 1,025-minute stint without conceding a goal in 2005 was a Premier League record until Manchester United’s Edwin van der Sar surpassed it in 2009, has failed to keep a clean sheet in league games since the opening match of the season when Chelsea drew 0-0 at Stoke.

The Czech Republic international admits the lack of shut-outs this season may be a symptom of the team adapting to Villas-Boas's playing style, which is far easier on the eye than many previous managers at Stamford Bridge.

But he says as long as the team is winning, there is no cause for concern.

“The team comes first,” Cech said. “So as long as you keep winning games. It is always better to finish with a clean sheet, but we have been playing well and we keep getting three points.

“If you finish the game 0-0 you might be happy with a clean sheet, but it is only one point. If you win 3-1 you get three points which is more important for the team.

“We are improving all the time and we will get back to our record of keeping clean sheets.”

On three occasions this season Chelsea have conceded late goals in matches they had been in control of, most recently against Everton last weekend.

Cech added: “The other team wants to control the game and the ball and as well we are not just waiting for the game to finish — we want to kill the game off. Maybe this is a reason why sometimes at the end of the game that something like this is happening.

“We were a little bit unlucky as well, not keeping our eye on little details.

“But we are aware of it and we are improving. It is happening at the moment but I think it will stop.”

Villas-Boas, who is likely to rest a host of first-choice players in tonight's Champions League Group E game against Genk, is similarly unconcerned about the habit of conceding late goals.

And he is pleased his men are beginning to play with the fluency he had envisaged from the start of the season.

Chelsea will qualify for the knockout stages if they beat Genk tonight and in Belgium in two weeks' time and Villas-Boas added: “The opportunity is there, but it is never easy. The group is tight and anything can still happen. It is this unpredictable situation that we want to avoid by trying to win. This will put ourselves in a better position.”

Villas-Boas rested John Terry for the Bayer Leverkusen game in September and kept Frank Lampard on the bench.

And he hinted he may do something similar against Genk, with a view towards the west London derby against QPR on Sunday.

“The most important thing is we are aware of the amount of talent we have at our disposal,” Villas-Boas said. “Any XI we put out is very, very strong, as is any squad of 18 we put out.

“This puts us in a position of comfort.

“There are situations that might happen regarding the upcoming QPR game — although four days' recovery will be more than enough.”

Belfast Telegraph


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