Dec 1 2011 By Yann Tear
CHELSEA are playing better away from home that at the Bridge because they concentrate more, according to the boss.
The Blues have suddenly found results hard to come by at their previously impregnable fortress, but are looking less vulnerable on their travels, Andre Villas-Boas says.
"I'm not saying that at Stamford Bridge it's a problem, but I think we've had some good performances away from home – in terms of focus and concentration,” the Portuguese said.
“Maybe it's because there is more tension in those games when you play away, less relaxation.
“Sometimes extra tension can let you be more concentrated and it might help you in your performances. I think in the games away from home, we have shown more quality, more focus, more attention and were able to perform a bit better.”
For that reason, Villas-Boas says he is relishing Saturday's lunchtime clash with Newcastle United at St James' Park – although he is all too aware of the threat the Geordies pose.
“It's an away game against a team that's surprising everybody and for sure will continue to surprise,” he said.
“I think Alan Pardew has set an excellent standard and is doing an excellent job. I think he also brought stability to Newcastle and a sense of serenity to the club, which in the last couple of years was a little bit in turmoil, with a drop down in division and being sold. Plus there's a city behind the football club – a sense of empathy with the club.
“It's a major football club that finds itself in an excellent position, fully motivated. So it's an excellent challenge for us. They have been on a great run."
As for his own team's form, Villas-Boas said: "The Liverpool game was not to a good standard compared to what we have been doing.
"We've been losing, but even in the games that we lost, we felt that either we gave everything on the pitch or that we played good football, but that was not the case against Liverpool. I think we weren't good enough on that day.
"Our results against the top teams have not been good enough, but we are still yet to play three of them so that still might give us a chance."
The Blues have a clean bill of health apart from the long-term absentee Michael Essien. Josh McEachran, who left the ground in a protective boot after limping off against Liverpool in midweek, only has a bruised ankle, and will be available again in a fortnight.