x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Chelsea remain strong even after defeat

Rivals fail to capitalise on first defeat as the Blues chalk off loss to Mancini’s team and they turn focus to the one prize that has eluded them.

epa02356565 Chelsea's John Terry applauds supporters after the final whistle of the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at the City of Manchester Stadium in Eastlands, Manchester, Britain, 25 September 2010. Manchester City won 1-0. EPA/FOTOSPORTS - ROBIN PARKER NO ONLINE OR INTERNET USE WITHOUT A LICENSE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO. LTD. *** Local Caption *** 02356565.jpg
epa02356565 Chelsea's John Terry applauds supporters after the final whistle of the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at the City of Manchester Stadium in Eastlands, Manchester, Britain, 25 September 2010. Manchester City won 1-0. EPA/FOTOSPORTS - ROBIN PARKER NO ONLINE OR INTERNET USE WITHOUT A LICENSE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO. LTD. *** Local Caption *** 02356565.jpg

Rivals fail to capitalise on first defeat Chalk off loss to Mancini's team as they turn focus to the one prize that has eluded them Rob Shepherd Premier League correspondent Even when it looked like things were going wrong for Chelsea in the Premier League this weekend, it still turned out all right in the end. 

The sixth round of matches began badly for the champions as they suffered their first defeat of the season - 1-0 at Manchester City. But events soon unfolded dramatically in their favour as title challengers Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur both lost, then, yesterday, Manchester United could only draw at Bolton Wanderers.

With their lead intact, ahead of next week's game against London rivals Arsenal, Chelsea now turn their focus to the one prize that has eluded them since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003: the Champions League. Over the last few years Chelsea, have been desperately unlucky not the lift the trophy that Abramovich covets the most, including losing on penalties to Manchester United in the 2008 final.

The Champions League is Chelsea's primary objective this season, judging by the what John Terry, their captain, said after Chelsea had completed the league and FA Cup double last season. "There is no doubt in Roman's mind and all our minds - we clearly want to win the Champions League," Terry said . "He [Abramovich] said we must get it next season. We have come so close over the last five or six years and at times have been the best team in the competition yet haven't gone on to win it."

Terry reiterated the point a week ago when he said: "Until we win that trophy I'm not going to die a happy man. I will never give up hope of winning that trophy. I owe it to every Chelsea fan." Tomorrow's match at home is against a Marseille team managed by Didier Deschamps, a former Chelsea player. The French champions warmed up with a 2-1 win over Sochaux on Saturday night. City have their own European challenge this week when they take on Juventus, the Italian giants, in the Europa League, on Thursday. It is the kind of heavyweight clash they hope to be facing in the Champions League next season.

Dedryck Boyata, the 19-year-old Belgian defender, was impressive as a surprise starter against Chelsea and he could be given his chance again by Roberto Mancini, with Micah Richards struggling with injury. Boyata was surprised to have been selected for the Chelsea game. "Usually in the week we train with the starting XI and I was not in it," he said. "Then when I glanced up at the board to see who was in the actual side, I only saw the first two letters 'BO' and assumed Jerome Boateng was playing. It was only when it was actually read out that I realised it was me. I was quite shocked."

The question for Mancini is whether to keep Boyata in the team for the Juve game. David Silva should be available after limping off with a minor knee injury, while Boateng might also come into contention after making his debut as a substitute. sports@thenational.ae