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Real escape with hope of progress

What the papers say
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By ESPN Staff

Cech: We're still fighting

Goalkeeper Petr Cech insists Chelsea can still win the Barclays Premier League despite last night's hugely disappointing 1-1 draw with Wigan.

The Blues are now five points behind leaders Manchester United with both clubs having played the same number of games.

Gloom is starting to descend on Stamford Bridge but Cech believes the title race will remain alive if Chelsea can beat Everton on Thursday.

The Czech, who returned to action against Wigan wearing a specially-made chin strap to protect 50 stitches in a facial injury, said: 'We are not throwing the towel in yet.

'We have a difficult game at Everton but if we beat them we cut the gap to two and then Manchester United have to come to Stamford Bridge.

'We need someone to do us a favour and beat United but we have to make sure we win all our games to keep the pressure on.

'They were lucky against Arsenal so they can be unlucky against Blackburn and other the other teams. The best thing about the Premier League is that all the teams have quality and there is always pressure.

'We are all disappointed because we conceded a late goal and lost two points. But we had a difficult first half and didn't create many chances.

'We knew we needed to play much quicker and better in the second half and, until we conceded, we passed the ball better, we passed the ball quicker and that's why we had some chances.

'Suddenly we did more in one-on-one situations and finally we broke their line but unfortunately for us we conceded a late goal, which is difficult to take but there are still points to play for and we need to keep fighting.'

Cech was delighted with his quick return to action just eight days after undergoing facial surgery following his training ground accident with defender Tal Ben Haim.

It was his first game since the 4-0 drubbing of West Ham on March 1 and although it was a gamble, Cech revealed how he had pleaded with the medical staff to play.

'It was a bit of a risk to decide to play this game but I have been missing football for such a long time,' he said.

'So when I got the protection for my face I decided to ask the doc if they would let me play.

'He was not completely happy about it but he respected my decision and it was good to be back on the pitch.

'I wanted to play, I wasn't forced to play and I had no fear before the game because I knew the wound was protected.

'I have had bad luck all season so I was hoping that nothing would go wrong this time.

'It was a little bit different for me to wear the mask but as I said in the end I was happy to be back on the pitch.

'Talking still hurts but it is even harder after that game.'

Chelsea took a 55th-minute lead through Michael Essien but Emile Heskey's shock injury-time leveller has left Avram Grant's side now facing a huge task.

And it has not been made any easier by a knee injury to Didier Drogba and the potential further absence of Frank Lampard.

The England midfielder pulled out of the squad during the warm-up for the Wigan game to be with mother Pat, who has been admitted to hospital with pneumonia.

Both players are doubtful for the must-win trip to Goodison Park.

Meanwhile, Wigan's former Chelsea star Mario Melchiot says he will do all he can to help his old club if they have any chance of winning the title on the last day of the season.

Wigan face Manchester United on the final day and Chelsea need Sir Alex Ferguson's men to slip up in their remaining four games.

'We can still do Chelsea a big favour and beat Manchester United,' said Melchiot.

'We need the points ourselves and may have to win to stay up. We want to get our future secured by then but it might all come down to the last game.

'I don't think Chelsea's title hopes are over. It is out of their hands now but the two clubs still have to play each other and United could lose again. At this stage it is possible - no-one thought they would drop points at Middlesbrough.

'Part of me is sad I may have cost my old club in the title race. I always get a lot of love and respect from the fans at Chelsea and I want nothing more than for them to win the title, but I had to do my job for Wigan first.'

But while Chelsea may have lost vital ground in the title race, Melchiot believes they can reach the Champions League final.

Chelsea have failed to beat opponents Liverpool in two previous semi-finals and Melchiot says it will be third time lucky for the Blues.

'The first leg will be difficult - Chelsea have struggled for years at Anfield - but they can finish them off in the second leg,' he said.

'I think they can go all the way. They have better individual players in the team now and it is time they got to the final.'