CHELSEA captain John Terry has played down fears that the Premier League champions are undercooked for the start of their title defence following Sunday’s Community Shield defeat to Arsenal.
The Blues have one more fixture remaining, against Fiorentina tomorrow, but have so far failed to win a pre-season match in 90 minutes as they prepare for Saturday’s big kick-off against Swansea.
They flew back last week from a tour of the United States, where they lost to New York Red Bulls and drew with Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, both of whom they beat on penalties.
Terry admits losing to Arsenal at Wembley hurt, but rejected suggestions that Jose Mourinho’s team looked tired as they slipped to a first defeat to the Gunners since 2011.
“I don’t think so. I thought we were on top if anything. I think these games are always a bit slow anyway. The players are still finding their feet and fitness,” he said.
“There was a trophy on the line. It hurt when you saw them [Arsenal] walk up the stairs to lift it. No matter if it’s a friendly or a Community Shield, it’s a trophy at the end of the day. It’s horrible. At the same time, it could be a blessing in disguise for us, a wake-up call.
“We have experience in the squad, we have the character. We have the Premier League to concentrate on now. We have to take the positives from it. We got another 90 minutes under our belts.”
Terry’s defensive partner Gary Cahill believes Chelsea will raise their game when league football returns but admitted Arsenal’s promising early form underlined their status as title challengers.
“They’ve started well, they’ve got a good squad and I think they’ll be one of many pushing at the top this season,” said Cahill. “I’m sure everyone has that belief at the start of the season. People talk and talk but the bottom line is when the season starts. We’re confident, we have a good squad and still have another game on Wednesday and more time to train before we start.”
England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first-half strike earned FA Cup winners Arsenal a 1-0 victory at Wembley in the season’s curtain-raiser, although they had to resist heavy Chelsea pressure thereafter.
“Let’s be fair, the game’s been won on a piece of individual play to smash it in the top corner, but chance-wise we had the majority of the play,” Cahill added. “I think in terms of possession we had the majority of the game but it’s the scoreline that matters and we’re disappointed with that.”