John Arne Riise praised the collective efforts of his Fulham teammates as they left Stamford Bridge with a point on Wednesday after holding Chelsea to a goalless draw.
The home side just about had the better of the play but the Whites, too, had their moments and so, in the end, the draw was probably the fair result – making it the fourth consecutive league stalemate between the sides.
“We’ve done well at the Bridge in recent years,” John told fulhamfc.com. “It was a great team performance; we showed character and worked hard for each other and we’re really pleased with how we played the game.
“We knew that the Chelsea team had a little bit of pressure on them before the match so we knew they probably needed to win to keep the fans happy, but our fans were simply fantastic.
“We heard them all game and especially in the second half when we had a few chances right in front of them; it was great support.
“Even though we’ve just played two games in a short space of time and we’ve got a third one coming up, we feel great because against Chelsea we put in a great team performance and it gives us energy ahead of the next game.”
The Blues’ attacking options on Wednesday evening included Fernando Torres, Oscar, Eden Hazard and substitute Juan Mata, and John was pleased to keep the lively quartet – who cost Chelsea an estimated £130m – from scoring.
“We knew that they have some great players up front; technical players who like to see a pass that nobody else can see, so we needed to be compact,” he explained. “The back four worked really hard, the midfield worked really hard and also the guys up front, so it was a great team performance.
“We’re really happy so now it’s time to have a quick rest before making sure we’re ready for the game on Saturday against Tottenham Hotspur, because it’s a tough week this one.”
A regular downfall for Fulham this season has been conceding goals from crosses; something our hosts were evidently aware of as they subsequently attempted to whip the ball into the box on no less than 40 occasions.
Fulham held firm though and there was almost always a white shirt attacking the ball first.
“We stuck together and we knew they were going to try and get some crosses in,” John said. “But we worked hard and we made so many blocks, it was unbelievable. They had shots from 20 yards and five yards but we blocked every single one so as a Team we were happy and I think the gaffer was happy as well.”
Taking a point away from Stamford Bridge is undeniably a great result, but it could have been so much better for the Whites had John taken one of the two chances that fell his way.
First, he latched onto Giorgos Karagounis’ magnificent cross-field pass after running the length of the pitch but couldn’t find the right connection as he went to shoot, before Petr Cech did well to parry his vicious strike from distance.
“I should have scored at least one,” he admitted. “But I had a bad first control and the second one was a deflection and a great save by Petr. So we could’ve won it but we’re happy with a point.
“With that first chance I think I ran about 90 yards so I was quite tired by the end! I tried to chest it down to take the shot but the control was too close to my body and I couldn’t get a shot off, so I was disappointed.”
Fulham now have another London derby to look forward to when we welcome Spurs to Craven Cottage on Saturday (3pm), and our left-back wants to take the confidence gained from the Chelsea result into the weekend’s contest.
“We kept a clean sheet which was important for us,” he said. “But Spurs won 2-1 against Liverpool so they are on a high as well which means it will be a very tough game for us. But it’s a home match and we want to get back to winning ways and get points on the board so the Chelsea result was a good step going into this game.
“People worked hard on Wednesday and we really wanted to keep a clean sheet and get back amongst the points and now we’ve got to take that momentum in the Tottenham game, and that’s something that we’re all looking forward to.”