Sunday 17 December 2017

Ivanovic: One win will set Chelsea right

Defender focused on next game after terrible start for Chelsea

Everton's English midfielder Aaron Lennon (R) celebrates with Everton's Scottish striker Steven Naismith after Naismith scored his third goal
Everton's English midfielder Aaron Lennon (R) celebrates with Everton's Scottish striker Steven Naismith after Naismith scored his third goal
John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea look dejected after the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park

Branislav Ivanovic accepts stuttering champions Chelsea need to raise their game - but is convinced one win can provide the spark to kickstart their campaign.

Chelsea's dismal start to their Premier League title defence continued as a Steven Naismith hat-trick sent them crashing to a 3-1 defeat at Everton on Saturday.

The result left Jose Mourinho's men with just four points from five games and reflecting on a third defeat in their last four outings.

They lost only three in the league in the whole of last season and their sequence constitutes the club's worst start to a top-flight season since 1986.

Defender Ivanovic said: "We need one big win to come back to our way.

"We are not playing as badly as the results are showing but we have to wake up.

"I think at the moment we are being punished for all our mistakes. The only way we can change is to work hard and be ready for the next game, so it is like a final and we have to play like a final."

Chelsea will hope to spring into life as they launch their latest Champions League campaign against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

Ivanovic said: "The next game is very important for us. It is a new competition and it is time to change all this situation. I hope we will start winning the games soon."

Chelsea were overrun in the first 25 minutes at Goodison Park. Naismith, a ninth-minute replacement for the injured Muhamed Besic, started and finished the move that led to the opener after 17 minutes. He quickly followed up with a long-range strike while Arouna Kone and James McCarthy also brought fine saves out of Asmir Begovic.

Nemanja Matic pulled one back with a brilliant effort before the break but Naismith - completing a classic treble of headed, left-foot and right-foot finishes - settled the contest after 82 minutes.

It was no more than the Toffees deserved having seemed the hungrier, better organised and more creative side throughout.

And the outstanding performance of centre-back John Stones, the subject of four failed bids from Chelsea during the summer transfer window, will only have increased the visitors' frustration.

Naismith now hopes his performance can lead to greater involvement in Roberto Martinez's side.

The 28-year-old said: "As a player it is hard to keep taking when you are on the bench but you have got to be ready."

Meanwhile, Mourinho still has the backing of the club's fans and hierarchy, according to the Blues' supporters trust.

Asked if Chelsea fans still loved Mourinho as much as ever and wanted him to continue, Tim Rolls, chair of the Chelsea Supporters Trust said: "Absolutely - you can look at social media and find one or two hot-heads, but most people know Mourinho is as good as it gets.

"We are only five games into the season and I wouldn't say it is a crisis."

"There are just problems that need sorting, and I'm confident Mourinho will do that.

"I think most supporters are fully behind him.

"It is important to maintain a sense of perspective, and I can't see any scenario in which anti-Mourinho chants would start from Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge or at away games.

"I don't think he is under pressure, other than that he is putting himself under."

Rolls added: "(Chelsea owner) Roman Abramovich is in it for the long term.

"It finished quite sourly between him and Mourinho in 2007 (when the manager's first stint in charge ended) - I think everyone is now older and wiser and realises Mourinho is as good as it gets.

"In my mind it would be absolutely futile getting rid of him because I don't think there is anyone better who could come in - Mourinho is arguably the best coach in Europe."

Rolls can still see Mourinho guiding Chelsea to a successful 2015-16, despite the way it has started.

"The players who really fired last season like Eden Hazard and Diego Costa don't seem to be quite firing yet, and there are obviously some issues at the back too, but I'm sure all this will be resolved," Rolls said.

"I'm still very confident we will finish at the very least in the top three of the league.

"I'm not saying we will win the league from here, but I certainly think we still can - City will slip up at some point, so we'll see.

"And I would expect at least one good cup run, hopefully in the Champions League."

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