Match Preview

Azpilicueta: Win it for Ray

Cesar Azpilicueta wants to pay his own tribute to Ray Wilkins, by helping the Blues secure all three points against West Ham tomorrow.

We welcome our London rivals to Stamford Bridge for tomorrow’s 4.30pm clash knowing that the game will be an emotional occasion, so soon after our former captain’s death at the age of just 61.

A minute’s applause will occur before the game, while the players will wear black armbands in honour of Ray’s memory.

Azpilicueta is fully aware of the impact that Wilkins had on this club and wants to mark the occasion with a victory in his memory.

‘I would like to personally pay tribute to Ray and for what he did for football, especially at our club, and my condolences go out to his family,’ said our Spanish defender.

‘I think the way he supported and loved the club was fantastic and as well as a minute’s applause, I think winning the game would be the best way to say thanks to him and his family for everything he has done for Chelsea.

Everybody has spoken only good words about him and people hold him very highly in their thoughts.

photo of Cesar Azpilicueta on Ray Wilkins Cesar Azpilicueta on Ray Wilkins

‘We all know how important he was for this club and especially for a lot of our players, as he played a big role for them.

‘We have young players here that have come through the academy that knew him very well and even though I didn’t get to meet him personally, I am fully aware of what he did for this football club.

'Everybody has spoken only good words about him and people hold him very highly in their thoughts.’

Following last weekend’s defeat to Tottenham, Azpilicueta knows how important it is to return to winning ways this weekend as we continue to fight for a top four finish, and the Champions League place it brings.

While conceding achieving that will be difficult, our Spanish international insists we will be fighting in every game until the end of the season and is calling on the Blues to return to winning ways tomorrow afternoon against our London rivals.

‘It’s a massive game for us,’ said the defender. ‘It’s another London derby and we want to get back to winning ways. Last weekend was a tough afternoon for us and since the game finished, we have been itching to get to the next game.

‘We’ve had to wait for Sunday for a little while, but hopefully we can get off to a good start and get the three points.

‘We know West Ham are a strong side with good players. They are fighting against relegation but they are still a good team. We have to focus on ourselves and bounce back from the defeat [against Tottenham] and get back to winning ways as soon as possible. Sunday would be the perfect time to do just that.

‘We need everyone,’ added Azpi. ‘We have tough games ahead and there is only six or seven weeks until the end of the season.

‘Everyone is pushing to get into the team and get the results we want. There is still hope to get into the top four and there are many points still to take. It’s a lot harder now, that’s just the reality of things, but we will always fight until the end.

‘We want to have a perfect end by winning every game for the rest of the season, as that is our target. Then it’s down to the rest of the teams to stay ahead of us.

‘Everyone has been frustrated with the amount of games we have lost this season and that is why we haven’t been able to retain our Premier League title. But we are continuing to fight until the end of the season and to give our all to try and finish in the top four.

‘West Ham will come here and make things difficult for us but we are at home and we want to get the victory for our supporters.’