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English Premiership

Cech awaiting crucial week

HULL, February 1 – Goalkeeper Petr Cech is convinced Chelsea have the perfect opportunity to establish a lead at the top of the Premier League this week that could prove highly significant come the end of the season.Carlo Ancelotti’s side, which won 2-1 at Burnley on Saturday, will use the game in hand they possess over Manchester United and Arsenal at Hull City on Tuesday night.

Then, on Sunday, they host Arsene Wenger’s Gunners in one of the highest profile fixtures of the calendar.

Cech, the Czech Republic international, was hoping his side would then be perfectly positioned in the league once Champions League hostilities, which see Chelsea pitted against Inter Milan, begin again.

"Now we have games coming up fast," he said. "We have to take advantage of it and we’ve got a game in hand at Hull. If we win that one we will open up a gap at the top. We have to keep winning our games, and if the others start dropping points it’s the best scenario for us."

John Terry provided the winning goal at Burnley despite revelations that the married father-of-two had an affair with the girlfriend of former Stamford Bridge team-mate Wayne Bridge, now at Manchester City.

Those led to calls for him to be stripped of the England captaincy but Ancelotti made it clear he would continue to wear the armband for his club.

"He is the captain and he will be the captain," said the Italian, who confirmed that Terry would remain an automatic pick for the Hull game. "The players have never lost trust in him."

Hull’s worries are of a different nature as a 2-2 draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday left them still in the relegation zone.

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Failure to beat fellow strugglers like Mick McCarthy’s team could prove costly but Tigers manager Phil Brown was confident his players could rise to the occasion against potential title winners.

"I thought last season and the stats have pointed towards it last season and again this season, that physically, physiologically and technically, everything, we have put our best foot forward against the top six, top seven teams," he said.

"I asked us to put our best foot forwards against the teams around us because that is the bread and butter. I have no doubts we will put our best foot forward on Tuesday."

Chelsea’s Burnley win was achieved without Didier Drogba even though the striker had returned from African Cup of Nations duty with the Ivory Coast.

Brown admitted he was mulling over his tactics ahead of a match where the powerful front-man could well return to the starting line-up.

"There seems to be an innate sense that 4-4-2 belongs to England or 4-4-2 is an English system," he said.

"Tactically, a lot of English managers are more aware than just 4-4-2. We played it against Wolves because we thought it was an opportunity against some of our nearest rivals in the Premier League and at home.

"Where Chelsea are concerned, that might be a different ball game. They play 4-3-3 and they have been, it might be different now Drogba’s back and you have to be aware."

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