Cesar Azpilicueta marked his 200th Premier League appearance for the Blues with his first victory at St James’ Park, and the Spaniard pinpointed patience as the most important factor in our third straight win.
It is six years ago to the week that Azpilicueta made the move from Marseille to Stamford Bridge, and ever since then he has been an integral part of our defence. He had won plenty of his first 199 league games for us, but a success in Tyneside had eluded him.
‘We are really pleased after seven years without a win at St James’ Park,’ he said.
‘We were all aware of the record. Personally, it is my seventh season and I had never won until now in this stadium, so it was an extra motivation, and we are happy because we have started the season really well.
‘It is a good number,’ added Azpilicueta after reaching his double century.
‘Hopefully it can grow and there can be more games and more wins because it’s what it’s all about.’
Regarding yesterday’s hard-fought victory, Azpilicueta highlighted one area for improvement, but overall he was satisfied with the manner in which we eventually wore the Magpies down.
‘They defended quite deep, we had a lot of the ball, and in the end we had to dig in and score a late winner.
‘Remaining patient was key. We kept our heads cool and we deserved to win the game. The team showed character and the will to win.
‘Creating more chances from open play is something we will work on, I’m sure. We want to control the game and have the ball, and we want to be dangerous in front of the goal. As a team we know we can improve and we will work on that.
‘I am sure in some games we will have to deal with a defensive opponent, in other games we will have to deal with a different type of game and player, but the Premier League is the best league in the world, and we know you have to fight every game to win points. Whatever it takes we have to work hard to win games.’
We have done just that in each of our three Premier League matches to date, the maximum points collected making it the perfect start to life under Maurizio Sarri. Azpilicueta’s experience in England tells him it is too soon to think about challenging for the title, but he knows that is the ambition and desire of the team and the club.
‘We know how tough it is to even qualify even for the Champions League. Man City created a big gap with the other teams, and it’s up to us to fight for the title.
‘Chelsea have our own pressure. We know we have won two of the last four Premier Leagues, and our standard is really high. We are in August, until May there is a big path to work, and we will see how far we can go.
‘After the international break we will be playing every three days. It changes completely with Europe, with the cups, and we have to be ready. We have a good squad and we have been working really hard with the manager. We have the level to fight for everything.’
Azpilicueta joins an elite group of players from overseas to have played 200 league games for Chelsea...