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Villas-Boas: There's no crisis at Bridge

ANDRE Villas-Boas has insisted Chelsea's confidence has not been dented by their recent on- and off-field travails.

The Blues travel to Blackburn tomorrow looking to put one of the most turbulent periods in their recent history behind them and close the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City.

The fallout from the John Terry racism inquiry and a raft of disciplinary issues are only the tip of the iceberg, with results having nosedived of late.

So, while City are threatening to run away with the title, the Blues are threatening a repeat of last year's costly mid-season slump.

"When things don't go our way, we can't be happy with what's passing," Villas-Boas (below) said.

"This week that has passed, and the results we have been getting, doesn't hurt our confidence.

"There's a good spirit in the group. There's a negative momentum we are passing by.

"We want wins as soon as possible. We went past a bad period and bad momentum last year, and we want to avoid that again.

"The memory of that is bad enough to want us not to repeat it.

"But we're not questioning our quality or our talent."

Indeed, Villas-Boas has been forced to defend more than one of his players in recent days over their performances, especially those at the back.

"Listen, I live with these players on a daily basis," he said.

"I'm fortunate enough to see what they can offer to me, and I make decisions on that.

"You don't see the commitment, how good they are. You see them in competitive and strenuous situations, and it's valid that people have their opinions. But we don't believe them."

He added: "There is always room for improvement. There must be.

"We are not satisfied with the way we are conceding goals, but we are looking to score more goals than our opponents.

"Our defensive organisation is solid, it's competent, and we have complete trust in it."

Meanwhile, Chelsea could be set for a welcome injury boost, with Michael Essien set for a quicker-than-expected recovery from knee surgery.

Essien was ruled out for six months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in July but may be back before the turn of the year.

Villas-Boas said: "Essien is making good progress. We're looking at the end of December, I think."