Petr Cech: Chelsea can protect lead
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has warned his side's title rivals that Jose Mourinho's men have what it takes to protect their lead at the top of the Premier League table until the end of the season.
The Blues head into the weekend fixtures with a seven-point advantage over their rivals, although all of the teams chasing them have games in hand and could shrink that gap.
While Mourinho has constantly suggested his team should be considered as outsiders to lift the title and are focused primarily on securing a top-four finish and a return to next season's Champions League, Cech has broken rank to claim the Blues are ready to be champions once again.
"In the past, it's fair to say we've not let leads slip," he is quoted in the Daily Mirror. "Of course, this is a different team and a different scenario, a different season, so it is hard to compare. But we know how to play under pressure until the last game.
"In recent years, we have been in these situations, so if we can do it again, that is what we will try to do. If you're top, you have to keep winning to stay top. If you're second, you need to keep winning to have a chance and you don't have things in your hands. So the pressure is the same.
"If you have a point's difference, are in second and chasing and the team top doesn't drop any points, it is tough. The pressure is the same whether you are first, second or third. Everyone keeps trying to do that. What you need -- and what we have -- is the approach of going game by game.
"A lot of people tend to watch the table too much when you come to the end of the season and if you keep watching the table and every other results you lose the focus on what you do. We don't do that. We focus on our games and our results. All we can do from now to the end of the season is to win our games.
"I don't have any power to change the game Arsenal will play this week or what City will do in their games in hand. I have no way to help the other teams to beat them, so I concentrate on what I can do help this team win the games we have; and that's why we have always had good ends of the season because we focus on ourselves."
Cech went on to dismiss suggestions that Chelsea have a comfortable final set of games compared to the other Premier League title contenders, as he offered up a familiar line ahead of the trip to Aston Villa on Saturday.
"We know that people are looking at our run-in and saying it's easier but nothing in the Premier League is easy," he added.
"What counts is that we go game by game. My next game is Villa away [on Saturday]. It's a difficult place to go and we want to win there again."