André Villas-Boas refused to blame Petr Cech for the late error that cost Chelsea two points at Wigan Athletic, insisting it was a collective lapse of concentration that would not affect his side's confidence going into their next game, an even more demanding fixture at White Hart Lane on Thursday.
Games against Wigan are not usually as demanding as all that, though Villas-Boas was clearly taken aback by the fight and organisation the home side showed, so much so that he made a defensive substitution midway through the second half to try to hold on to the slender lead Daniel Sturridge's well-taken goal had given Chelsea.
It was a plan that failed to work, as the Chelsea manager acknowledged. "We couldn't hold on," he said. "Maybe we should have tried to go for a second goal, but because of the momentum Wigan had, as soon as we scored the goal we tried to hold on to what we had. This is a different Wigan team now, I think. They have picked up confidence and momentum from recent results and they made it very difficult for us. They were compact and we found it hard to find space in the first half. That was why I made a change at half-time, so that Juan Mata could run between the lines. It seemed to have worked, but once we tried to preserve what we had, Wigan fought back and we couldn't hold on.
"I don't know if Petr Cech was unsighted but I don't want to blame individuals. It was a collective mistake, a joint lack of concentration, but our confidence is not affected. It is a pity to fall back in the league a little bit, but it was a tough game and a fair result. We now have to wait to see who is fit, and prepare for a massive game against Tottenham."
John Terry and Frank Lampard should be fit, after requiring treatment at the DW for a twisted knee and a cut lip respectively, and Villas-Boas says Ramires has a better than even chance of recovering from injury in time for the Spurs game. Cech's confidence may take longer to restore – the goalkeeper looked ill at ease throughout – and Chelsea will be under pressure at White Hart Lane to make amends for these dropped points, even though their performance belied suggestions that there is disunity at the club.
Unlikely as it may seem, the real story here was the performance of the home side, who did not quite manage to climb out of the bottom three with this result but surely will if this level of performance can be repeated.
"The performance was even more pleasing than the point," Roberto Martínez said. "Chelsea are a phenomenal team, whereas we are a side expected to get relegated every season. To compete against them you have to be tactically aware and I thought the players could take massive credit for the way they stuck to their task. Tactically we were superb, and to say that of a team that lost eight games on the trot [earlier in the season] shows how hard we have been working to turn things around."
Gary Caldwell, the Wigan captain, agreed. "We showed great desire, and I think Chelsea were surprised," he said. "A couple of weeks ago we crumbled against Arsenal, but this time we showed some fight. With confidence and belief in each other we can get the results we need."
Wigan must hope that's true – their next games are against Liverpool and Manchester United. Chelsea need to prove it all over again.