Branislav Ivanovic warns Chelsea to get tough

Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic has warned his team-mates that the European champions are in danger of becoming a soft touch this season.

Reported by: Agence France-Presse
Last updated on Friday, 21 September, 2012 13:23 IST
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London: Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic has warned his team-mates that the European champions are in danger of becoming a soft touch this season.

Ivanovic was left frustrated after Roberto Di Matteo's side blew a two-goal lead to Juventus in the midweek Champions League draw with the Italian club.

Stoke's visit to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday provides Chelsea with an early opportunity to remedy the defensive lapses that contributed to their failure to make a winning start to their Champions League defence.

Those deficiencies were also exposed by Atletico Madrid in the 4-1 European Super Cup defeat.

And Tony Pulis's side are likely to provide a tough test with Michael Owen in line to make his first start for Stoke alongside his former England strike partner Peter Crouch.

After dropping their first league points of the season in last weekend's scoreless draw at QPR, Chelsea will be anxious to claim a first win in four games.

The arrivals of Eden Hazard and Oscar -- who marked his full debut with two goals against Juventus -- has given Chelsea a more dynamic look in attack.

But Ivanovic has highlighted the need to rediscover the defensive solidity and desire that delivered Champions League and FA Cup glory last season.

"We started well against Juventus but after that it was too easy for them. We can improve 50 per cent more on this performance," Ivanovic said.

"We are playing differently this year with more emphasis on attacking but everyone also has to be focused on defending. This is what helped us last season.

"It's all about our concentration and motivation. We have to think that every situation is dangerous and cover well. It’s more of a mental situation because our training is hard enough to prepare for a big game. Mentally we have to do more.

"Every player has to self-motivate themselves, to make sure they are in the right position and be in the right way, so they can give good things for the team."

Fernando Torres will again lead the Chelsea attack, but the Spaniard is in need of a confidence boost after two lacklustre displays against QPR and Juventus.

Stoke are still searching for their first win after recording draws in their opening four Premier League games.

Pulis's squad is still coming together with USA midfielder Maurice Edu, like Owen a late recruit to the Potters, hoping to feature against Chelsea.

Edu switched to England from Glasgow Rangers following the Scottish club's financial meltdown and is determined to make a big impression in his new surroundings.

"I don't think I was much different to any other kid -- when you dream of playing overseas, you dream of playing in the Premier League," said Edu.

"For my personal situation, it was inevitable that I had to get out and move on.

"I had a lot of great times at Rangers, but the World Cup's coming and I want to be a part of that, so it's important that I was playing top-flight football.

"I've had a week or so now to get involved with the boys and get some banter going, but more importantly to get involved in training.

"To get in the first-team is my goal now. I'm keen to get involved with the team as soon as possible and just playing games and enjoying myself again."

Stoke will be without full-back Andy Wilkinson who starts a three-match ban after opting not to an appeal an FA charge for elbowing Manchester City's Mario Balotelli.

Story first published on: Friday, 21 September 2012 09:00 IST

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