AZPILICUETA: THE RIGHT RESPONSE
Chelsea came through an important test against Wigan on Saturday.
Having gone 2-0 up against the lower table side early in the second half, the Blues allowed our opponents to pull a goal back almost immediately. However unlike in other recent games an equaliser was prevented and instead we kicked on to take all the points with a comfortable 4-1 winning margin.
Cesar Azpilicueta, selected at right-back at the Bridge this weekend, spoke afterwards about the vital passage of the game and was pleased with the fortitude he and his colleagues displayed.
'When we scored the second goal we needed to be more attentive, we should not concede one minute later,' he acknowledged.
'When you are with a little less confidence it is difficult but we kept the shape of the team very well. Instead of being scared and dropping back a lot we had a reaction to keep the ball and create chances. This is the main thing, that the mentality is still strong. We kept going and scored the third and the fourth goals that helped us.'
On an individual level, Azpilicueta played one of his best Chelsea games, looking every inch the full international he became on Wednesday. It was his delivery that led to Eden Hazard making it 2-0 and his shot that was well-saved late in the game, only for Marko Marin to head in. The 23-year-old also crossed menacingly for compatriot Fernando Torres to head on-target although on that occasion the Wigan goalie tipped the ball over.
'It was the first time I was involved in so many goals and it was a very good week for me, finished by winning with Chelsea. The keeper did a good save from my shot but hopefully Marko's goal is going to help him a lot.
'The last few results have been disappointing so it was very good we won with our supporters here. Tottenham had won before our game and we wanted to keep our league position, and we did.'
Attention now turns to our first Europa League action, beginning with the visit to Prague on Thursday. The fixture schedule has remained jammed throughout Azpilicueta's first Chelsea season, yielding 27 appearances for him to date.
'We want to play every few days because it means we are still in competitions,' he insisted. 'It is very important for the team to keep going in the Europa League and the FA Cup.
'It is true the Europa League is not the same as the Champions League because that is the top but the Europa League is a big competition, an important competition, and now we have the chance to win it. Never in the history of Chelsea have we won this cup and we are going to try to do it.
'The first months I was here we had Roberto [Di Matteo] with us and now Rafa came here and we are working very hard with him. We are trying to do the things that he asks and I think that we are playing well and doing the right things. When we have lost we have done a good game but when you make mistakes you pay.
'When you don't win it is difficult but hopefully we now recover the smile that is important for the team and for the future.'