Reaction: Showing character

Matchwinner Gary Cahill believes the team passed a tough test with victory at Stoke on Saturday.

Cahill netted three minutes from time in the Potteries to bring us all three points and, temporarily at least, extend our lead at the top of the Premier League table to 13 points. It came after Willian’s opener had been cancelled out by a Stoke penalty awarded when Cahill was adjudged to have fouled Jonathan Walters inside the area.

‘When you make a mistake, I felt it was a soft penalty, but nevertheless you want to make it right in some way, somehow, so I’m delighted to get the goal,’ the 31-year-old said. ‘The most important thing is the win but I was delighted to get the goal. I felt I’ve showed character time and time again this season just as we have as a team, and you get the rewards sometimes.’

As expected, it proved to be one of the toughest games of the season, Diego Costa in particular endured plenty of close attention while Pedro too took a couple of heavy challenges against a typically physical Stoke side.

‘It was exactly how we expected it,’ Cahill reflected. ‘We knew it was going to be tough. I watched the City game and they frustrated them, they were really well organised and it was the same again today. They caused us a few problems but we kept trying to play and create and we did that thankfully. The wins are all that matter at this stage.’

The defender added that the team’s targets for March have been hit, with pressure now passing to those pursuing us in the title race.

‘It’s crazy we only have two Premier League games this month and we spoke about what the gap could be, we managed to get the two wins, that was the target at the start of the month and we can sit back and watch the games [on Sunday] now,’ he said.

‘I’m sure there will be pressure in those games and they may respond to that, but I’ve played in situations before where a team gets a result before and you have to go out. It gives that extra bit of pressure.’

GARY CAHILL: A massive three points