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Saturday 19 April 2014

Cech eyeing Blues record

Petr Cech has kept 208 clean sheets for Chelsea

Petr Cech believes success for Chelsea in Sunday's Barclays Premier League crunch clash with Liverpool is dependent on having a miserly defence as the goalkeeper eyes another landmark.

Following clean sheets against Arsenal and Swansea, the Czech goalkeeper is aiming to match Peter Bonetti's club record of 208 on his 456th appearance. Bonetti made 729 Blues appearances.

It will not be easy at Stamford Bridge against a Liverpool side who have netted 43 goals in the Premier League this season, including 19 in 13 games for Luis Suarez.

Cech, who recorded his 150th Premier League shutout on Monday at Arsenal, said on chelseafc.com: "It is a great milestone for a goalkeeper and I am one clean sheet away from Peter Bonetti's all-time record.

"It would obviously be fantastic to get that in the Liverpool game."

The Liverpool contest is Chelsea's ninth match in December, a month where Jose Mourinho's men have claimed five wins, lost twice and drawn once.

The last two matches - a goalless draw at Arsenal and a 1-0 defeat of Swansea - were the first time Chelsea had kept consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League this season.

Cech hopes the stubborn streak continues against a Liverpool team bidding to respond from their defeat at Mourinho's title favourites Manchester City.

"Beating Swansea with the other results that day was an important three points and now we are in a good position to go face to face with Liverpool," Cech added.

"You need everybody to do as much as possible to defend and not give away cheap goals because, as the fatigue accumulates in this hectic period, it becomes more difficult to find the energy to overturn games.

"When you get the lead and keep a clean sheet it is more easy to win a game.

"Against Swansea we had chances when we could have killed the game off but we had to fight until the last second and we did well.

"Sometimes it is difficult when you have two games against main rivals and between you have a game everybody says that you should win. It is not easy to concentrate and in that respect we did very well.

"I had one save to make all game and we did well at Arsenal and back-to-back cleansheets is very positive for everyone.

"If we can score more goals it will become easier for us."

Cech's continued good form means Mourinho's summer goalkeeping quandary could become increasingly challenging.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is on loan at Atletico Madrid for a third season and impressing and attracting admirers, including Barcelona.

Another Belgian in a rich vein of form is Eden Hazard, who netted the winner against Swansea for his seventh Premier League goal of the season.

Hazard will be hoping for another strong display against a Liverpool team expected to provide a stern test.

"A big match, another big match," Hazard told Chelsea TV.

"They play very well. They have the best scorer with Suarez. (Steven) Gerrard is injured, and (Daniel) Sturridge. Good for us.

"But they're a very, very strong team and it will be difficult."

Chelsea will be without midfielder Ramires, who is suspended for one game after picking up a fifth booking of the season against Swansea.

Frank Lampard is likely to return to the starting line-up in place of Ramires, while Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill are in line to return in defence at the expense of Ashley Cole and David Luiz.

Fernando Torres could start up front against his former club as Mourinho rotates his options.

Torres has two Premier League goals all season, with Chelsea's strikers having a total of five; Samuel Eto'o has two and Demba Ba one.

Former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink believes the forward position is the Blues' Achilles heel.

"If they had a Suarez or (Sergio) Aguero, they would be top of the league now and a few points clear," Hasselbaink, who scored 87 goals in 177 appearances, told BBC One's Football Focus.

"They can keep clean sheets. They still need an out-and-out goalscorer. Somebody who is going to score you 25 goals."

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