Andre Villas-Boas admits Chelsea face a crucial month

By Phil McNultyChief football writer at Stamford Bridge

Andre Villas-Boas says December will be a crucial month for Chelsea after they lost to Liverpool in the Carling Cup quarter-final.

The Blues face fourth-placed Newcastle and leaders Manchester City in the next two Premier League games.

They also face a vital match against Valencia in their bid to qualify for the Champions League knockout phase.

"For our Premier League to be alive we need to make the most of the December games," said the Chelsea manager.

He had no complaints after Liverpool's 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge - and conceded his side must improve.

Chelsea are fifth in the Premier League, 10 points behind Manchester City, having already lost four matches.

In their last nine games overall, the Blues have been beaten five times.

After Newcastle on Saturday in the league, Chelsea need a goalless draw or a win against Valencia on Tuesday to advance into the Champions League knockout stage.

"In the Champions League this standard won't be enough," stated Villas-Boas.

"We need to up the game and play with the ultimate desire.

"In this period we have games against Newcastle, Manchester City and Tottenham and if we are able to do that then we can get it back on track."

Villas-Boas urged fans to support his team in the upcoming home matches.

"Away from home we've been more solid statistically and as a team. At home we just haven't been good enough," he said.

"We need to get our fans behind us and get the emotion right. You can feel Stamford Bridge has become anxious.

"We therefore need support. We need atmosphere to get us past this period.

"We have two big games at home where we need our fans behind us and I'm sure they'll do exactly that."

Chelsea's £50m British-record signing Fernando Torres once again struggled desperately and Villas-Boas hinted strongly that he will be back on the bench for the weekend trip to Newcastle.

He said: "I think with Fernando it must come with confidence and time. We believe in him and we will continue to pursue his individual form.

"Fernando faces tough, tough competition and against Newcastle we will most likely go back to 4-3-3."

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish was delighted with his side's victory but took a swipe at competition organisers for the scheduling of matches that forced the Reds, Manchester City and Crystal Palace - who take on Manchester United on Wednesday and are then in action again on Friday - to play two games in three days.

"The way we're progressing is more significant than reaching the semi-final of a cup that's been cheapened by the actions of the people who run it," he said.

"But that doesn't mean to say we wouldn't love to win it. We've got our reward and we'll look forward to the next game.

"Three teams in the quarter-finals have problems with fixtures. Do us a favour.

"I'm not clever but I think I could have avoided that. The solution is to get someone a brain."