Cech: Chelsea need to bounce back
Petr Cech has urged Chelsea to use their dozy defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk as a wake-up call for their top-of-the-table Barclays Premier League showdown with Manchester United.
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1. Petr Cech
Cech claimed the European champions' first major setback of the season last night may have come at the right time as they bid to open up a seven-point gap over United in Sunday's mouthwatering clash at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues goalkeeper was confident his side's 2-1 Champions League defeat at the Donbass Arena could turn out to be the ideal "lesson" to take into a match with their perennial title rivals.
Cech, who will captain Chelsea on Sunday if Frank Lampard fails to recover from a recurrence of a calf injury, said: "If you take it in perspective, it is good that this happened now because Manchester United is a similar team, who play on the counter-attack away from home.
"We will play more or less the same kind of side as Shakhtar.
"So, hopefully, this will serve as a lesson for the weekend."
Cech admitted Chelsea were made to pay for their heads still being in the dressing room on Tuesday night as Shakhtar scored early in each half to inflict a defeat that put Roberto Di Matteo's men in danger of being the first Champions League holders to crash out of the competition before Christmas.
The Blues have produced slow starts and re-starts in other games this season, including in Saturday's stunning comeback at Tottenham.
And Cech, whose heroics in goal on Tuesday night prevented what might have been a humiliating scoreline, said: "We need to change the way we start games.
"The way we started the second half at Tottenham made the game very difficult.
"Against Shakhtar, we started the game slowly out of the blocks and I think that's one thing not to repeat.
"To get better concentration from the first minute is how you can deal with it.
"If you are unlucky and someone scores goals, you can't control this.
"We lacked a bit of concentration."
Chelsea's only other defeats this season came in the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup and they have taken 22 from 24 points in the Premier League.
But Tuesday night's result against a simply outstanding Shakhtar side showed there was still some way to go in their transformation into one of the game's great entertainers.
Cech added: "We have done well so far this season and kept the balance in the team but against Shakhtar that wasn't the case.
"We allowed them too much space and this was the key. If you give technical players that much space, you will always have problems.
"It was an open game and we didn't want to play a match like this.
"But this loss doesn't take away our rhythm."
It does leave Chelsea needing to win their remaining two Group E home games against Shakhtar and Nordsjaelland to qualify, according to manager Di Matteo.
Indeed, they may also need a draw at Juventus in between those matches despite being let off the hook by the Italian champions' shock draw in Copenhagen on Tuesday night.
"The Juventus result was a positive," Cech said.
"We are disappointed with the loss but what happened in Denmark keeps us above them in the group.
"We have Shakhtar at home next, so we can get back these lost points."
Chelsea could also do with a 1-0 win or victory by two goals to ensure they finish above Shakhtar on head-to-head record should the sides end the group level on points.
Oscar's 88th-minute consolation was therefore not to be sniffed at on Tuesday night.
Cech said: "Every goal counts and, for us, Oscar's could be decisive in the end.
"It's a really close group but I think that could be an advantage.
"All the other teams have dropped points so far as well.
"We are not far from first place, so this is the advantage of it."
Lampard will undergo a scan on his calf today, with the results expected tomorrow, while there have been unconfirmed reports fellow midfielder John Obi Mikel is close to agreeing a new five-year contract at Stamford Bridge.