Analysis

Ruben Loftus-Cheek reveals tactical instructions that paid off and analyses his headed winner

After netting a dramatic late winner at Cardiff yesterday, Ruben Loftus-Cheek revealed what Maurizio Sarri said to him when he came on that helped make the difference.

The 23-year-old popped up in the box in the first minute of stoppage time to thump home Willian’s cross. His pinpoint header sealed three important points that for a long time did not look like they would arrive.

Loftus-Cheek’s introduction off the bench midway through the second half added extra impetus to our attack, and the fact he was in the right place at the right time to strike the decisive blow was no coincidence.

‘The boss said to me when I came on to tell Ross [Barkley] to sit a bit more, and try and get in the box as much as I can,’ he said. ‘I did that.

‘I had a feeling we were going to get chances, and I said to myself to get in the box and hopefully one would arrive.

‘I was just focused on the ball and tried to attack the ball. I got a little bit of a shoulder drop in there and managed to get in front of him. I didn’t see it all the way, I closed my eyes, but it ended up in the net so all good!’

Loftus-Cheek acknowledged it was far from our best performance of the season but pointed to a better response to conceding than in other games, and stressed that at this stage of the campaign the three points is all that matters.

‘The first half was scrappy. It didn’t look like we were creating too many chances to score. We came out second half and conceded early again, but this time we stuck with it and managed to get two goals.

‘I felt like we had the game in control late on and we had most of the ball, so chances were going to come. Eden coming off the bench helped. We stuck with it and we played more with the ball in their half as well.

‘Cardiff defended very well, blocking shots, winning headers, winning duels, so it was difficult. We knew it would be. A win is a win and we take the three points. It will help massively. Top four is the aim and we need to continue to go for it.’

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