Chelsea PHOTO: Ian KINGTON / AFP
Chelsea will look to avoid an FA Cup upset at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday with the mood still upbeat despite being held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at Burnley last Sunday.
The Londoners hold an eight-point lead over Manchester City in the Premier League but the Cup could give them a chance to rest some of their more established players even against a side that knocked out Liverpool last time.
Certainly manager Antonio Conte was able to make nine changes from his regular side for the fourth round tie at home to Brentford yet still emerge comfortable 4-0 winners.
Pedro was one of those that played against Brentford and could feature against Wolves too after claiming he is now “very happy” at Stamford Bridge.
The Spanish winger came close to a return to Barcelona in the summer but no longer has any plans to leave following a successful campaign where he has scored nine times in 27 appearances.
“This is the best moment for me at this club and also the best moment for the whole team since I’ve been here,” he said.
“I’m very happy here. It’s a good situation when you are top of the League and progressing in the FA Cup. We are on the right path.
“Last year was a difficult one for me, for the club, for the team, but this year is different.
“With this coach, all the team is focused on the fight for the title, with more confidence for every game and this is good. It’s a completely different season.
“Every day I’m more comfortable with the team, with my team-mates, with the club and I have a good relationship with the supporters. All is good for me here and I’m very happy with the situation.”
– ‘Analyse it, let it go’ –
Pedro, who won five league titles and three Champions League trophies whilst at Barcelona, admits he found the going tough in his first season in England last term but has now got used to the pace of the game.
“It’s very different compared to Spain, but now I’m in my second year here I understand the football. It’s quicker, more intense and more competitive,” said the 29-year-old, who was also a member of the Spain team that won the 2010 World Cup.
“For me it’s different now I have adapted. I have to run a lot, play harder and I’m very quick, which helps me in the games here in England.
“Here it’s quicker when you attack and everything is different. You have to change mentally and it’s difficult to adapt at first, but I have changed, I have done that now.”
Wolves enter the game on the back of their eighth home defeat of the Championship season after Wigan Athletic won 1-0 with a late goal on Tuesday.
Manager Paul Lambert claims a meeting with the Premier League leaders is the perfect game for his side and he is drawing on some advice from Ottmar Hitzfeld — his boss at Borussia Dortmund.
“They won’t need picking up or motivating,” said Lambert.
“I’m looking forward to it myself, the game and the atmosphere it’s going to generate.
“One of the greatest bits of advice I ever had was from Ottmar Hitzfeld. He actually sent me a nice text when we beat Liverpool so we keep in touch.
“He and Martin O’Neill were the best managers I worked under.
“Ottmar was manager of Switzerland at the time, I went to watch them train and I asked him how he handled a defeat -– he said to analyse it for 24 hours and let it go.
“Because if you don’t, it eats away at you. And you’ve got the job of picking everyone else up as well as yourself.”