César Azpilicueta has been around long enough to know what it feels like to be a part of a world class defensive unit. After all, he earned universal praise and recognition as the left back in Mourinho’s title-winning back-four in 2014-15, and repeated (if not bettered!) those performances as the right-side center back in Conte’s title-winning back-three in 2016-17.
Chelsea’s defending in the Lampard era has been barely a shadow of those glory days, let alone the early days of the first Mourinho era, and that’s becoming an increasingly frustrating part of the whole experience. Azpilicueta himself isn’t pleased either.
“What is clear is that if we want to fight for everything we have to improve defensively. This is a problem we have to fix collectively and individually. Sometimes you can get away with it but you cannot rely every game on having to score three goals.
“You have to dig in and get a clean sheet. It’s very important for the confidence of the team to have this solidity. We have to start getting this consistency of not conceding goals. When you have the solidity defensively, it gives a boost to the whole team, to the attacking players to create chances.
“When you are defensively weak sometimes we feel like we have to score three or four goals every game. As a defender, I feel bad when you concede so many goals. We have to improve our personal mistakes and collectively take better decisions.
“Through the season you are not going to be playing beautiful football and winning three or four-nil every game. When you don’t you have to get results.”
Right words, as usual, from Captain Dave, but as ever, they won’t be very useful without the right actions.
Tuesday’s match against Sevilla to begin our Champions League group stage campaign would be a perfect time for those right actions.
“Since I first arrived in 2012 I always had the confidence and belief that we could fight for everything. It’s true we didn’t start the way we wanted to in the Premier League and the cup, but the Champions League is a completely new challenge. We have to be ready for it because we are going to play a strong team.”
-César Azpilicueta; source: Goal
“We had a short pre-season, the transfer market was open during the start of the season, and there were a lot of rumours around, you had people going out and coming in. It’s not easy, but hopefully now everyone is a bit more settled and we can keep working. We know that results are key and at the moment, every three days, we have game, game, game. We have to be ready for that until the next international break.”
-César Azpilicueta; Source: Chelsea FC
Onwards and upwards!