Terry backing for Chelsea
John Terry has vowed Chelsea will get better and better in the most open Barclays Premier League title race the Blues captain can recall.
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26. John Terry
Terry twice lifted the Premier League trophy during Jose Mourinho's first spell, but did so only once in the Portuguese's absence, during Carlo Ancelotti's double-winning campaign in 2009/10.
Now the skipper is aiming to lead the Blues to glory after a 3-1 defeat of Southampton took Mourinho's men to within four points of Premier League leaders Arsenal.
Manchester City are third, two points further behind, Liverpool a point further adrift in fourth, defending champions Manchester United are eighth, nine points behind Arsenal, and Tottenham - the sixth team Mourinho believes are title rivals - are ninth, 10 points off the pace.
"The Premier League is more open than I've ever seen it," Terry told Chelsea TV.
"We saw that with Hull beating Liverpool. It was important (to beat Southampton) with Man U and Liverpool dropping points. It was a chance to push on and pull away from them.
"I'm delighted that the team are playing well, my form's very good. I can chip in with a couple of goals.
"Ideally I'd like to be sitting top of the league. I feel as though it will come and we'll get better and better."
Chelsea next face Sunderland, Stoke and Crystal Palace before a London derby with plenty at stake at Arsenal on December 23.
Against Southampton, it was anything but straightforward as Jay Rodriguez netted after 13 seconds, capitalising on an error from Michael Essien to score past Petr Cech.
It required Chelsea and Mourinho to change tact and the Blues, beaten by Basle in Switzerland in midweek, scored through Gary Cahill, Terry and substitute Demba Ba.
Terry added: "The whole game plan completely went out of the window. A mis-kick by Mike, Pete came and went back and all of a sudden we're 1-0 down.
"After that they dominated and had a couple more chances. First half we were like at Basle, non-existent. Second half we showed some real character."
Terry scored his 57th Chelsea goal on his 400th Premier League appearance and 593rd appearance in all competitions, a mark which took him to fourth in the all-time club rankings.
Terry, 33 this month, could make his 600th appearance before the end of the year and thanked supporters for sticking by him through thick and thin.
"The stats don't lie and my career doesn't lie," added Terry, who is in the final year of his contract.
"The fans have been patient with me throughout my whole career. Hopefully I've got a lot more to give for them and the football club. Hopefully these milestones keep coming."
Chelsea will be without Samuel Eto'o for a few more weeks, while Oscar faces a period of absence with an ankle injury sustained against Saints.
Oscar made way in the first half as Mourinho shuffled his tactics to chase victory in a match he described afterwards as "must-win".
Chelsea's sixth win from seven home games this term saw Mourinho extend his unbeaten Premier League record at Stamford Bridge to 67 matches. He insisted that is not a concern.
Mourinho told Chelsea TV: "I'm here to try to win matches and if one day I lose, I lose. Losing 1-0 let's go for it and the boys did well."
Southampton had the most miserly defence in the Premier League entering the contest after an impressive start to the season.
But now Saints have lost back-to-back matches ahead of Wednesday's game at home to Aston Villa and Saturday's home contest with Manchester City.
The defeat was compounded by injuries to midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin and goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who faces a six-week absence with a broken left hand.
Rodriguez told Saints Player: "The defeats will improve us as a team. We've got the belief in our team and the team spirit to bounce back. It's a massive week."
Rodriguez was pleased with his early goal, but frustrated Saints could not build on the advantage.
"I thought the keeper (Cech) was going to come out but he took a step back," the forward added.
"I just thought to put it in and luckily it went in the net. I was obviously really chuffed but we're disappointed with the result.
"We wanted to keep the lead and improve on it. We had chances to go on and create another goalscoring opportunity, just the last pass was off.
"It's something to look at and to try and improve on for the next game on Wednesday."