AZPILICUETA: GROWING TOGETHER
Cesar Azpilicueta has been reflecting on his first goal in a Chelsea shirt, his start to the season under a new manager and our trip to Newcastle on Saturday.
The right-back scored only his second career goal in our 2-0 win at Arsenal, setting us on our way to a victory that puts us in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup. The Spaniard's solitary goal prior to Tuesday's first-half volley, in a career which has seen him participate in over 150 professional games, came in the final game of the 2011/12 season, while he was at Marseille. Somewhat surprisingly, he admitted that it might not have come as a shock to all his team-mates.
'Actually, before the game, Eden [Hazard] told me that I was going to score, and David Luiz also told me that I was going to score. In truth, though, I'm not used to scoring goals.
'I was defending the corner next to Mark [Schwarzer], and when the ball was cleared I started running. It was a quick counter-attack, and when I arrived in the box I had the chance to score,' Azpilicueta said.
'The most important thing is to smell that maybe you have the chance to score. I am a defender and I know when the ball is coming in the air it can be sometimes be difficult. He tried to play it back to the keeper but I arrived there before.
'My team-mates told me they were looking where I was in that moment and they looked in the box and I was scoring the goal.'
Azpilicueta has started three games this season - both victories in the Capital One Cup and the win against Schalke last week - but he believes his experiences from his debut campaign and his hard work in training stand him in good stead to feature in many more games as the fixtures pile up.
'Last season as well I didn't start it playing, but after that I played practically every game. This year there is another manager, and at the moment he plays with Branislav [Ivanovic]. But I'm training very well and I feel confident with him.
'The season is long and the most important thing is to keep working. We have a really good squad, every player can play and give 100 per cent, and we need to keep fighting for titles because we want to arrive at the end of the season with options to win every trophy.
'It's true that I'm not playing a lot of games but I feel really comfortable with the team and with the manager so I am happy with the work that I am doing.'
Chelsea will go top of the Barclays Premier League, though possibly just temporarily, with a win in our early game at Newcastle on Saturday. League leaders Arsenal host Liverpool later that day before a trip to Old Trafford the following weekend, but Azpilicueta is just focusing on his team's performances.
'It's true that Arsenal have two really difficult games but we don't need to look to the other teams. We play in a difficult stadium in Newcastle and we know it's always a hard game there,' the 24-year-old said.
'This league is really competitive and every game is difficult. We just have to keep working and improving in every game. We are growing up as a team and that is the most important thing.'