Gary Cahill has urged Chelsea to draw on the memory of last season’s UEFA Champions League success when they face Swansea City in the second leg of their English League Cup semi-final today.
Rafael Benitez’s side travel to the Liberty Stadium trailing 2-0 from the first leg at Stamford Bridge and face a daunting challenge if they are to clinch a place in the Wembley final.
However, they head to south Wales lifted by the 2-1 weekend win over Arsenal that centerback Cahill claims has revived the club’s Premier League title ambitions.
The England international believes their performances in last season’s European campaign, which included a penalty shootout win in the final against Bayern Munich in a match played on the German club’s own ground, proved they are capable of defying the odds when silverware is at stake.
“It’s not beyond us,” Cahill said. “We have done it before in the Champions League. It’s going to be tough because it’s a hard place to go. The key is getting the first goal, if we get it then it will be a nervous night for them. That’s what we’re aiming to do.”
Chelsea’s away form under interim manager Benitez has been formidable and they will confront Michael Laudrup’s side on the back of six successive domestic victories on their travels and Cahill is confident they can now embark on a run that will take them closer to the Premier League top two, Manchester United and Manchester City, as well as inspire success in the cup competitions.
“Yes, we are looking at the Manchester clubs. It has been frustrating because there have been many times this season where we have nearly got ourselves back involved and then let it slip, but we are more than capable of putting a run together and winning nine out of 10 games. That’s what we need to aim for and see where it takes us,” he said. “We have got to make sure we are in one of the spots for the Champions League. We also have the cup competitions and we want to go as far as we possibly can in them.”
However, Cahill warned fatigue could count against the Blues.
“At the minute, it’s impossible to feel 100 percent fresh. It is difficult, but we can’t use it as an excuse,” he said.
David Luiz is set to return to the squad after missing the Arsenal game with an ankle problem, but doubts remain about captain John Terry’s match fitness.
Swansea’s progress this season has been such that Laudrup has figured prominently among the list of contenders to become the permanent manager at Chelsea at the end of the season.
The Denmark playing great’s reputation will only be enhanced if he can steer Swansea to the first major cup final in the club’s 100-year history.
That would complete a remarkable success story for a club that escaped relegation into non-league soccer on the final day of the 2002-2003 season.
Long-serving midfielder Leon Britton, involved in that battle for survival, said: “This would be massive for me and everyone at the club to reach Wembley and the first major final.”
“It would be a great achievement. When you see the TV screens and it says Swansea were bottom of the Football League 10 years ago, and on Wednesday night we have the chance to play in a final, it shows how far we have come,” Britton said. “We can become legends because it will be the first time it’s happened. If we do get there, people will talk about the team that got to the League Cup final.”