independent

Friday 25 April 2014

Ivanovic: Chelsea need to kick on from Norwich win

Chelsea's Frank Lampard (L), Branislav Ivanovic (C) and Fernando Torres
Chelsea's Frank Lampard (L), Branislav Ivanovic (C) and Fernando Torres

Branislav Ivanovic hopes Chelsea can kick on following the international break after a start to the season in which Jose Mourinho's men have remained in contention despite leaving plenty of room for improvement.

Chelsea enter the international hiatus in third place in the Barclays Premier League, two points behind leaders Arsenal, after claiming a first away win of the league season at Norwich.

When club action resumes, Chelsea play seven games in 21 days, beginning with Cardiff, Schalke and Manchester City.

"When we're back from the national team we have the very tight schedule of games," defender Ivanovic said.

"I think we have to work very hard to be top, and use all the squad for these kind of games that are coming up for us.

"I think we are (heading) in the right way."

The run of matches includes a game with Arsenal, just two days after the clash with City.

However, the Emirates Stadium fixture comes in the Capital One Cup and Mourinho has already suggested he will select an under-21 team due to the proximity of crucial Premier League and Champions League matches.

Ivanovic believes the key to the Premier League title race will be to accumulate points when not playing well, as Chelsea did at Carrow Road in their 3-1 win.

"This year is going to be a very tough, a very difficult league," the Serbia defender added.

"Every team will have a bad period and a good period. The important thing is in the bad period to take the points, and to stay (in contention).

"Arsenal are dong well at the moment, but the season is a long one."

Chelsea appeared set to cruise to victory at Norwich when Oscar fired the visitors into a fourth-minute lead, but the hosts struck back and equalised through Anthony Pilkington.

The Blues were under pressure and broke from a corner for Eden Hazard to score a late second, followed moments later by Willian's first Chelsea goal, a sublime curling effort from the edge of the area.

"To take the three points from this game was for us very important," Ivanovic added.

"You see we tried to do our best, we tried to do everything to take the three points from this game, and in the end it was very important."

Both Hazard and Willian, along with Samuel Eto'o, came off the bench in a display of Chelsea's firepower.

Ivanovic believes there is more to come from Willian and Eto'o, who have both started life at Stamford Bridge slowly following their moves from Anzhi Makhachkala.

"Both guys add fantastic quality," Ivanovic said.

"Willian showed he can improve and he can impress all the guys more, and we expect from him a lot. His goal is very important for him for confidence and for motivation.

"Eto'o is a guy who is still new in our team, in our squad, and we have tried to help him to settle as quickly as possible."

Ivanovic has been Mourinho's first-choice right-back this term, but knows no-one at Chelsea is guaranteed a place.

Ivanovic added: "With our manager you have to impress him every day. You have to show him every day especially the small details. All of us."

Mourinho admitted afterwards to being worried at the prospect of defeat to a battling Norwich side who might have had a penalty when Ramires and Pilkington collided in the box.

Canaries midfielder Jonny Howson was disappointed with the defeat, but saw plenty of signs of optimism.

"It was tough to take," Howson told the Eastern Daily Press.

"For large periods of that second half, on the pitch, it certainly felt like we had them on the back foot and maybe we were going to get the second.

"We made the perfect reaction from their first goal. We didn't let it bother us, we kicked on again and reacted to that. It looked like we were going to be the ones to get the second goal.

"But against top-class teams, that's what they can do to you. They can see it out when they're on the back foot and turn it around.

"Their second goal killed it, in a way. The momentum totally shifted and the third is a world-class goal.

"It wasn't to be and we'll learn from this.

"There are a lot of positives to take out of that game and we gave it right good go."

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