For just the sixth time in his 28 appearances this season, and for the first time since mid-December, Ruben Loftus-Cheek completed the full 90 minutes in a game, as he went the distance against Dynamo Kiev on Thursday. This isn’t necessarily a unique situation in the Chelsea midfield, as neither Mateo Kovacic (8 times in 40) nor Ross Barkley (10 in 39) have achieved that feat too often this season — in part due to competing against each other for the same minutes — but in Loftus-Cheek’s case, his well documented injury history played a big part, too.
Now, he’s hoping for better, healthier days ahead, and of course more big minutes.
“I really enjoyed it, it was my first 90 in a while. It was difficult at the end but I kept pushing to try and get the runs in my legs and I’m really happy with that. It’s difficult when you’re not playing as much as you’d like and you’re not playing 90 regularly. Before I was injured I was playing quite a bit and I was feeling good and then I got injured again at the wrong time for me. I had to take it slowly but I’m building up nicely.
“It’s hard, especially with the injuries I’ve had. It’s important for me to stay mentally strong for the rest of the season, stay fit and work on my body so when I get the opportunities I can do well and help the team. I feel good now so hopefully that will stay and I can play to the best of my abilities.”
Loftus-Cheek used those 90 minutes wisely, playing a starring role as Chelsea demolished Ukrainian Premier League runners-up Dynamo Kiev to qualify for the Europa League quarterfinals. Next up will be Czech . Next up in Europa will be Czech First League runners-up Slavia Prague — certainly beatable opposition despite their shock elimination of Sevilla, who had been one of the favorites alongside Chelsea to win it all in May.
Loftus-Cheek is certainly aiming to not suffer a similar fate against former Chelsea prospect Miro Stoch & Co next month.
“We’re here to win this. We showed that on the night. We didn’t go there just to qualify, we wanted to win and we knew it would be difficult with them coming out needing to get goals early. We got the first goal to settle it down a bit and after that we played some really good football. Congratulations to Oli for his hat-trick, it was fantastic.”
-Ruben Loftus-Cheek; source: Chelsea FC
Proper attitude and ambition. Hopefully we’ll even see more of the Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek triple act as we progress towards the final.