Keogh and Derby County ready for Chelsea, ‘to test yourself against the best’

Third in the Championship and having already lost in one knockout tournament to Chelsea this year, Derby County captain Richard Keogh nonetheless is 'relishing' a chance at the Premier League leaders.
Derby County defender Richard Keogh lunges at the ball during the Championship Play-off Final last season at Wembley Stadium. Carl Court / AFP / May 24, 2014
Derby County defender Richard Keogh lunges at the ball during the Championship Play-off Final last season at Wembley Stadium. Carl Court / AFP / May 24, 2014

Defender Richard Keogh has warned Chelsea that Derby County have improved since their last meeting and urged his side to be patient in their quest for League Cup glory.

The skipper believes extra maturity will aid their challenge ahead of Tuesday’s quarter-final showdown.

Chelsea beat Derby 2-0 at the iPro Stadium in the FA Cup in January, but, with the club third in the Championship, Keogh insisted they were a better side now.

“As a squad and a group we have really matured and come on. It is going to be a great test and experience, but this is why you are in football, to test yourself against the best,” he said.

“We are striving to try and play against this calibre of player and team every week.

“You can see what kind of team they are and I am sure they will come here with a very strong team.

“Having seen them they have a bit of everything. I think they have proven it this year, Jose Mourinho has taken them to another level.

“He knew what he wanted in the summer and recruited well. They are blowing everyone away.

“We are going to have to be a bit more patient. We like to dominate the ball and we’re going to have to accept we’re not going to have as much of the ball.

“We have to be disciplined and with the sharpness and quality in their team there can be a goal before you blink.”

Mourinho picked a strong side including Didier Drogba, Gary Cahill and Oscar in Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Shrewsbury in the last round.

Cahill will be rested for the game, but Keogh knows Chelsea’s strength in depth is huge.

“We analyse their strengths and weakness, and individual players,” said the 28-year-old.

“It would be naive to go into a game like this, or any game really, without looking at the opposition and who you are going to be playing against.

“Whoever plays, I will be looking forward to the challenge, relishing it. As a player I want to play against these types of players every week.”

Mourinho is wary of Derby’s threat prepared for a battle.

“We’re going to play against a top team in the Championship,” he told Chelsea TV.

“The difference between a top team in the Championship and the teams of the Premier League are very, very small. We played there last year and it was not an easy game.

“We have no reason to rest people, everybody goes. The only one that is not going because he played against Sporting (Lisbon), I never gave him a break, is Cahill.

“Cahill doesn’t play, I play (Kurt) Zouma.”

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Published: December 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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