Ivanovic: Tiredness no excuse
Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic has insisted that tiredness "cannot be used as an excuse" for failure in the final stages of the season.
Rafael Benitez's side are in the midst of a frantic fixture schedule that is stretching their resources to the full, with the club still involved in both the Europa League and the FA Cup, as well as the race for Champions League qualification.
Ivanovic, however, has claimed his side should relish the challenge after scoring a fortunate winner for the Blues during their 2-1 win against Sunderland on Sunday.
"In this stage of the season the number of games cannot be an excuse," Ivanovic told the club's official website. "You have to play every game like a final and we did that [against Sunderland] in the second half.
"At half-time we said we needed more energy and more intensity and our first goal was very important to give us the confidence and energy to do that. It is true we were under pressure and we didn't play at the level we needed to at the start, but we found a way to win.
"Sunderland changed their manager and a lot of things for his first game and we conceded a goal from a set piece. Especially when you concede in the first half at home it can be difficult to change the game, but we did it and we are happy about that.
"This result was an important three points and we are in a good way and we have to carry this on to the end of the season."
Meanwhile, Ivanovic has claimed he is not interested in bolstering his own goalscoring statistics in what is left of this campaign, even though his goal against Sunderland enabled him to break his personal best for a season in Chelsea colours.
"It is my best total, but I am not looking at that," said the defender, who has now scored seven times this term, beating his previous record of six goals in the 2010-11 season.
"All the goals in the Sunderland game were strange, but for me the three points were important and we have a lot of games until the end of the season, so we have to work very hard to finish it well."