Next five league games are key, insists Cole

MIDFIELDER Joe Cole has shrugged off Chelsea’s 2-2 Champions League draw with APOEL on Tuesday night and insisted Carlo Ancelotti’s side must instead concentrate on staying on top of the Barclays Premier League at the start of 2010.

Chelsea, already Group D winners before the draw with the Cypriot minnows, have seen their lead in the English top flight whittled down to two by Manchester United.

The Blues have three home games against Everton on Saturday, Portsmouth and Fulham with two tricky away contests at West Ham and Birmingham before the end of the year, and Cole says they could not be more important.

“It has been a bit of a bumpy week and we need to bounce back and get back to winning ways,” declared Cole. “Hopefully we can do that Saturday.

“The next five Premier League games are very important. The Christmas period is always vital. We want to still be sitting on top of the league at the start of January.

“Any team can beat you in the Premier League and it’s very difficult to win games. There are no excuses. We’re sitting on top now and need to be sitting there on January 1.”

Chelsea are sweating on the fitness of Michael Essien, who was forced out of action on Tuesday night with a hamstring strain minutes after scoring the equaliser. The Blues will be hoping the Ghanaian midfielder, who is out of the Everton clash, will not be sidelined for a long period. But Cole is confident they can cope if scans show the injury to be serious enough to put him out of the game for a significant amount of time.

“We’ll miss Michael, but we’ve got a good squad and this is what it’s for.”

John Terry added that last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City had been a “wake-up call” for the Blues.

“It has got to be a real wake-up call. We are still top by two points and this emphasises that the Premier League is not a walk, it is a big, big battle.’

“Everton will be the same at the weekend. They are getting players back and, after the draw against Spurs, will believe they can get a result.”


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