Assistant first-team coach Ray Wilkins has warned Chelsea cannot afford any more slip-ups at home if they are to have any hope of catching Manchester United and winning the Premier League title.
United moved five points clear of the Blues at the top of the table after Tuesday night's 5-0 demolition of rock-bottom West Brom - beating Chelsea's record of 10 consecutive clean sheets in the process.
Chelsea face Middlesbrough on Wednesday night knowing they can ill-afford to drop any more points at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have already lost to Arsenal and Liverpool and drawn with Newcastle, West Ham, Manchester United and Tottenham and those poor results have already put a dent in their title ambitions.
But Wilkins insists the players are ready for the challenge of trying to win every remaining home game in order to cash in on any loss of form by United in the run-in.
"We are naturally disappointed that we're not sitting at the top, but that's life," admits Wilkins. "Now we're playing catch-up. We haven't picked up enough points to be at the top. We have to be on the ball all the time now because we can't afford to slip up.
"Manchester United are going great guns at the moment. If that means we have to win every home game, then that's what we'll try and do. That's not a problem. We have to win. We know we have to win.
"The lads are so professional here, they realise what's in front of them because they realise that Manchester United won't slip up too often. If United do slip up, we have to be prepared to take advantage of that.
"Liverpool haven't really been up there since the creation of the Premier League. So it does become a slightly different story once Manchester United hit the top, only slightly. They're two great clubs. We have to make sure that our own house is in order. If we do win the majority of all the games, we'll not be far off.
"It is harder chasing. I'm not bothered who we chase. We know what we've got here. I don't talk about other clubs. It's what we do, not what they do. We'll be chasing and going hammer and tong from here on in."
Chelsea's season has been handicapped with long-term injuries to Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Essien and Joe Cole. Although captain John Terry is back after missing the last two games with a back spasm, Carvalho will be missing again with a hamstring strain.
The prolonged loss of Terry and Carvalho at the heart of the Chelsea defence has been one of the reasons why the Blues have slipped behind United at the top of the Barclays summit.
Wilkins added: "The problem every club will find going into this period is that it's a very heavy period coming up. Man United have picked up injuries, as we have.
"You just have to hope those injuries aren't too long-term. You never know what can happen in a league season. We didn't anticipate losing Joe Cole for the rest of the season, but that's the case. Anything can happen."