London (AFP) – Kepa Arrizabalaga has urged Chelsea to regain the initiative in the race for a Champions League place after their poor run of form continued with a 1-1 draw at Brighton.

Despite a stalemate on the south coast on Tuesday, the Blues remained third in the Premier League, having topped the table early last month.

But the draw left Chelsea a huge 12 points adrift of leaders and reigning champions Manchester City, having played one game more. 

And they face pressure from below them, with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal both having several games in hand following a rash of postponements due to Covid-19.

Blues goalkeeper Kepa is acutely aware of the threat and hopes they can turn the tide, starting with Sunday’s match against Spurs at Stamford Bridge.

“We are honest. We are in good positions in all the competitions — we are in the Champions League, we have the League Cup final and the World Club Cup — but in the Premier League we have dropped points in the last month,” the Spaniard told Chelsea’s website.

“We have to get back to winning ways because everybody is coming (up behind us).

“We need points because we want to be on top of the league, but we have to look at ourselves, improve and step up.

“We have another big game on Sunday, a London derby, and from there we go.”

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel blamed a mediocre display at the Amex Stadium on mental and physical tiredness.

However, Kepa, who has been called into first-team action while Edouard Mendy is at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, said players had no choice but to maintain their concentration.

“We are not happy of course, we dropped two points and we didn’t play well,” said the 27-year-old.

“Of course there is disappointment and frustration. We only got a point because they scored from a set-piece. We worked a lot, we ran a lot, but in small details we lost two points.

“Set-pieces are about concentration, about focus and taking your man. We have to look at ourselves, not outside, and improve. There is not one solution. We are working on it, trying to find solutions.”