LONDON: Gary Cahill insists Chelsea are determined to remain in pole position in the Premier League title race when they face Newcastle on Saturday.
The Blues moved to the top of the table for the first time in 21 months when they beat Reading 4-2 on Wednesday to make it two wins in two games at the start of the campaign.
A third successive victory over Newcastle at Stamford Bridge will confirm the position of Roberto Di Matteo’s side among the early pacesetters and maintain the upbeat mood that has followed victory in last season’s Champions League final.
That defeat of Bayern Munich delivered the one trophy that was missing from the club’s trophy cabinet.
But Di Matteo has already declared the priority this season is to close the gap on champions Manchester City and runners-up Manchester United after last season’s disappointing sixth-place Premier League finish.
And England defender Cahill confirmed the Italian’s message has got through to Chelsea’s players.
“The manager stressed before the Reading game that we haven’t been top of the league for a long time and, although it’s early, it’s nice to be sitting there,” Cahill said.
“It is something we needed to address this season and it has been drilled into us.
“It’s important that we challenge this year and we have made a good start.”
The form of Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard has provided an early highlight with the Belgian quickly settling into life in the Premier League following his move from French club Lille.
But Cahill believes the return of Fernando Torres to the scoresheet will be equally significant as the Spain striker attempts to establish himself as the club’s number one striker following Didier Drogba’s move to China.
“Maybe he will relish being the main man this season. He has done that at the start of the season and has been great for us,” he said.
“It is good to see him score so early in the season. He has dealt with pressure before and that won’t be any different for him this time.
“He is the main man this year and has got off to a fantastic start.
“Fernando has worked hard in training like he always does. Even when he doesn’t score, he works hard for the side.
“To get off the mark already is great and he was scoring goals in the European Championship for Spain so he has taken that sort of form into this season.”
Newcastle’s starting line-up at Stamford Bridge will bear little resemblance to the one that took to the field for the club’s return to Europe after a five year absence, less than 48 hours before the trip to London.
Magpies manager Alan Pardew utilised his squad for the Europa League play-off first leg 1-1 draw against Greek side Atromitos, but will welcome back the likes of regulars Demba Ba, Fabricio Coloccini, Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote for the return to Premier League action.
Pardew’s side face a gruelling regular schedule of three games a week if they make it through to the Europa League group stages, and the boss said:
“We’ve got a lot of games coming up and it’s important that our best players
have their energy levels up.
“In the Europa League I’m going to put out a team I think I can win and that might not be all our big hitters.
“Doing that would be impossible, especially with the amount of travelling involved and we have to remember that the Premier League is our bread and butter.”