Interview

Ruben Loftus-Cheek: What Chelsea need to be great

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been discussing how the team is looking to improve and feels consistency could be key in the next few games, starting against Fulham today.

We head to Craven Cottage on the back of three consecutive clean sheets in all competitions, having gone more than 345 minutes without conceding a goal when you include extra-time against Manchester City and the second half of the match with Manchester United.

Considering that three of the four games during that period have been against sides currently in the Premier League’s top four, it is clear the Blues’ back line has become a tough nut to crack recently, but that is no coincidence according to Loftus-Cheek.

‘We’ve been working a lot more on being solid as a team defensively,’ he revealed. ‘I think that showed in the last couple of games, obviously keeping City at bay and then the clean sheet against Tottenham. So we’re improving on that and I think we’ve got enough talent in the team going forward that we can create chances and score goals.

‘The system hasn’t been changed. We’ve been doing what we’re doing, playing how we’ve been playing since the start of the season. We’re just picking our moments, when to press and when to sit off and be compact. We’ve been loads better at staying compact as a team and pressing as a team throughout the game, so that’s improved.

‘We are making progress. These days can happen where it just doesn’t go right, that’s football. Consistency in football is the hardest thing. To keep playing at a high level week in, week out, three times a week is very difficult. Consistency helps you win titles, so this is the biggest thing for us. If we can keep these top performances up we can be a great team.’

That search for consistency continues today when we take on a Fulham side currently sat in the relegation zone and playing under their third manager of the season, with former Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker taking charge of his first match at Craven Cottage having replaced ex-Blues boss Claudio Ranieri on Thursday. However, Loftus-Cheek and his team-mates aren’t allowing themselves to be distracted by events at our west-London neighbours and are fully focused on what happens on the pitch.

‘Any team that’s in and around the relegation zone is going to be difficult to play, especially with them being at home and being a derby.

‘We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. We’ll analyse Fulham and how they’re set up defensively and offensively, so we’ll be ready for the game and have our game-plan.

‘We won’t concentrate too much on what’s happening around Fulham, we just look at how they play and analyse how they play and look to do the best we can.’

Loftus-Cheek also discussed the frustration he has felt at the back problems which have kept him out of contention for spells this season and hampered his efforts to secure a regular starting role in Maurizio Sarri’s side, but is confident he is nearing an end to those troubles and can continue his development.

‘I was doing really well and I got injuries, so that doesn’t help, but if I can keep fit and be patient and keep working hard, improving as a player, then I believe that at some point I’ll get my opportunity.

‘I feel close, especially getting opportunities coming on off the bench most games, so in those opportunities I need to do my best to help the team win, whether it be holding the lead or trying to get a goal. If I do well in those opportunities then hopefully the starts may come.

‘Just trying to keep fit, especially with my back, has been really frustrating for me, but working with the physios and the medical team, I think we’re getting close to nailing that down and keeping my back feeling good.’

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