Defeat City and we’re back in the race, says Cech

CHELSEA vs MANCHESTER CITY

CHELSEA goalkeeper Petr Cech insists victory over Manchester City in this evening’s heavyweight Premier League clash will catapult his side back into title contention.

City have set a ferocious early season pace and have failed to win just two of their 14 league games, but Wednesday’s demoralising elimination from the Champions League at the group stage will provide the first significant test of their character.

Chelsea, meanwhile, after a slump in form, are beginning to display the green shoots of recovery.

The west London club progressed to the next round of Europe’s premier club competition following victory in their winner-takes-all meeting with Valencia in midweek and ended Newcastle’s unbeaten home record a fortnight ago.

A win tonight would move them to within seven points of leaders City, and with more than half a season remaining Cech, who has won three championship medals since he moved to Stamford Bridge in 2004, is convinced his side can still mount a title challenge.

He said: “We still can [win the title] because there are so many games to be played. We all remember last season, we were so many points ahead, then behind, Manchester United.

At Old Trafford we could have won the Premier League there and then but it went the wrong way for us. The gap at the moment is a big advantage for City but there is a long way to go.

“The good thing is we have the belief back, we know there is a lot of pressure and we can handle it.

“We have another massive game tonight and that could be another turning point in the season for us because if we manage to get three points the Premier League table will start looking different.”

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, who confirmed his long-serving goalkeeper is in talks to extend his contract, must decide whether to restore Frank Lampard to the starting line-up after he was omitted from last week’s win over Valencia, while Didier Drogba is likely to start up front again, with Fernando Torres consigned to the substitutes’ bench.