Interview

Rudiger: Stay focused

Antonio Rudiger is looking forward to the chance to bounce back in the Premier League with a win over Fulham and feels the team just needs to keep doing the things that gave us such an impressive start to the season.

In our last league game at Tottenham we suffered our first defeat of the season, but we returned to winning ways in emphatic style by beating PAOK 4-0 in the Europa League at Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening, and now have the chance to do the same on the domestic scene when west London neighbours Fulham make the short trip to SW6.

However, while Rudiger is keen to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes as we did against Spurs, the German international is quick to point out there is no need to make wholesale changes to how we are playing after such a good opening to 2018/19.

‘Just because of one game we don’t need to break our heads,’ said the defender. ‘We need to take positives because until that game we were still unbeaten and if anyone had said that this would happen, I think 90 per cent would have said “no”. So we just need to stay focused and try to make this not happen again.

‘If we look back at this match many things didn’t go well, but there’s no use trying to look for excuses. It was a bad game and we need to learn from this because it was a huge lesson.

‘Of course the manager was disappointed but that’s normal after such a game. At the end of the day we don’t want to lose games, but sometimes we do.’

The 3-1 loss at Tottenham was also the first time we had conceded more than twice in a game under Maurizio Sarri and, while Rudiger admits the defence could have played better, he says it is as a team that we will win or lose.

‘We know things went wrong and of course the line of focus is on us because we are the last ones at the back. I think in general, as a team, we failed,’ he added, before explaining why he is so pleased to be playing alongside his defensive partner so regularly this season. ‘David Luiz, first of all, is a good person. I like playing alongside him because he is a very, very experienced player and won a lot of titles. He’s someone I can look up to.’

He also had a warning as to the size of the task ahead of us when Fulham come to the Bridge off the back of a win in their first game since former Blues boss Claudio Ranieri was appointed manager, and points to their two goal scorers in that match against Southampton as a particular threat, including one man who is well known to those at Chelsea and the German national team.

‘They have quality players – like Andre Schurrle and Aleksandar Mitrovic – they are good players and also with the effect of the new coach, we will see when we play against them if this effect will still be there.’

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