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Azpilicueta: Solid and strong

Following Sunday’s 3-0 win at Everton, the Blues now need three wins from our remaining four games to become champions, and Cesar Azpilicueta says all of our focus right now is on next Monday’s game against Middlesbrough.

The fixture against the Teessiders is the first of our three remaining home matches, and we also face a trip to the Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion a week on Friday in what is our final away game of the season.

Azpilicueta is one of only two players, along with fellow defender Gary Cahill, to play every Premier League game for the Blues this season, and he reflected on Sunday’s big win at Goodison Park.

‘We prepared well, we knew it would be difficult and we were mentally ready,’ said the Spaniard.

‘Even after the first half, which was 50-50, we were able to play a great second half. It was an amazing goal from Pedro and after that it became a bit easier.’

From a defensive perspective, there were a lot of positives to take from a game in which we kept our first clean sheet in the league since January.

Nullifying the threat of the in-form Romelu Lukaku, who had scored in every one of Everton’s home games this year prior to Sunday, was a key factor, according to Azpilicueta.

‘We know Lukaku is the top scorer in the Premier League, he’s very dangerous but we just tried to defend him as best as we could,' Azpilicueta added.

'Obviously it’s one step forward but there are still four games to play. We are really happy with the Everton game but now we must focus on the next one.'

One of Azpilicueta's defensive colleagues, Nathan Ake, was brought on for the closing stages after David Luiz was forced out of the action through injury.

The Dutchman, who started the FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham the previous weekend, took up a central position in the back three for the first time this season, and spoke about the challenge.

'It was a bit different but I see David train and play, so I know what the role is and I just tried to fit in,' said Ake.

'I’m happy. I played the FA Cup game and came on in an intense match against Everton, which shows the trust from the manager, so I appreciate it.

'This is what you play football for, the FA Cup was really big and a good platform for me to test myself on. Everton was a different kind of game, we were 2-0 up but the front players are really dangerous for them so you have to come on and be ready, I felt it went well.'