The racist abuse aimed at Antonio Rüdiger put a massive damper on Chelsea’s excellent 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at their new stadium. It has been, and rightly so, the main focus of the coverage and the discussion following the match.
Still, as far as the actual football is concerned, it was a great day for Chelsea, as echoed by Chelsea Captain César Azpilicueta, who led the calls for serious action needed against racism (and not just in football) after relaying Rüdiger’s concerns to the referee during the match as dictated by the protocols in place.
“[Since the November] international break we were not finding the consistency to win games. We have been conceding a lot of goals, we did not win points, it is a fact that we lost many games for Chelsea and now we have come to Tottenham to play a team that were in good form and we showed great spirit, we fought and we know what it means for the fans and for all of us. That spirit made a huge difference in the game.”
While it was Willian, in one of the best ever performances of his career, who scored all the goals on the night, the young players were also key in our victory. Mason Mount was scintillating in his runs on and off the ball, Tammy Abraham led the line against two and sometimes even three defenders, and Fikayo Tomori helped build a stonewall to shield Kepa Arrizabalaga from any potential harm.
Chelsea had made the decision to live or die by the performances of our homegrown youth, and Azpilicueta’s certainly glad to see that decision (not to mention the youngsters’ hard work) pay dividends like it did this weekend.
“We cannot forget the young players and where they were last year when they were playing a different competition and they were playing in different circumstances. We know that Chelsea requires the highest level in every game and that means playing every three days in the Champions League and in the Premier League, every game fighting to win and be at the top, so we have to respect that and the young players have shown great spirit and great mentality to grow day by day, together with the staff and with the coach.”
“We the senior players try to help them as much as possible but they have shown a great strength and it is one more step towards their development. I am very pleased with the whole team.”
As for Azpilicueta himself, who played about as well as he ever had as a right wing-/full-back, he’s hoping that the muscle injury that forced him off towards the end of the game is nothing major.
“Hopefully with the Christmas presents I will get fit to play on Boxing Day.”
-César Azpilicueta; source: Chelsea FC
Azpi has been practically injury-free since joining Chelsea in 2012. It’s the busiest time of the season, with games coming up Thursday (Southampton, home) and Sunday (Arsenal, away), so let’s not start now.