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Azpilicueta: ‘We should have done much better’

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The Chelsea captain reflects on yesterday’s poor effort at Goodison

Everton FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chelsea will not win every match. Even in the best of seasons, we will lose games and drop points. And this season is far from the best, certainly as far as results are, have been, and will be concerned. We knew that heading in.

The real trouble with yesterday’s 3-1 loss to Everton however, which featured the first goal Chelsea have scored at Goodison in almost four hours of football, is that Chelsea’s level of play wasn’t up to expected standard either. And even more troubling is that the same could be said of last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to West Ham United. Previous losses this season saw Chelsea at least play well or show signs of promise to build on.

There was none of that yesterday. Chelsea were outfought, outthought, outmuscled, outplayed. By a team in the relegation zone. Sure, Everton are probably too good to go down. But it’s not like they came up with some sort of genius masterplan to achieve victory. Their approach was as simple as it gets in top flight professional football and Chelsea crumbled in its wake.

After a day to forget, no one likes to talk to the media, but credit to captain César Azpilicueta for at least a few token words of an appropriate nature — and his post-match round of applause for the traveling support, too — acknowledging our shortcomings in both the physical and the mental battle, and at both ends of the pitch.

“We did not start very well because we knew they could have a reaction in the stadium with a new manager but we didn’t cope well enough. We should have done much better in a game like this. In the first five minutes we gave away a goal from a cross, which we knew they were dangerous from, and after that we were in trouble. We conceded again early in the second half and in those key moments we weren’t strong enough to cope with them.

“The mentality is very important and performing every few days is key to being a top team. We lacked this mentality today to come here and fight, to be at our best against a team that were struggling. We were coming from a very good game against Aston Villa but we didn’t show ourselves to be mentally strong enough to cope with this.”

This loss has already entered the narrative of the season as a potential candidate for when the Lampard “honeymoon” ended, though I’d contend that if we win on Tuesday, the good vibes will remain mostly intact. That must-win match against Lille at the Bridge will determine whether we continue in the Champions League or drop into the Europa League for the second half of the season. It’s obvious that massive improvement is required.

“Defence is an area where we have to improve but we are not strong enough in both boxes right now. We are conceding a lot and when we arrive in the dangerous areas, we are not clinical enough to score our chances. It’s a major problem because in football the key is to be clinical in both boxes and at the moment we are not strong enough in both of them so we have to work on that.

“Our target is to win every game and on Tuesday we have a final, it’s like the knockout stage already for us. We have to win to go through and we have to be ready because we cannot play like that today. The Champions League is the highest level and we have to be ready for it.”

-César Azpilicueta; source: Chelsea FC

With just 2 wins in our last 7 games in all competitions, Chelsea need to figure out a way to snap out of this bad moment, and snap out of it quickly.