Cesar Azpilicueta praises ‘complete player’ Ruben Loftus-Cheek and looks forward to exciting weeks ahead

It was Cesar Azpilicueta who popped up with the equaliser at Cardiff in our last outing, and ahead of our next, against Brighton tonight, the defender has hailed the progress made by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the matchwinner in Wales.

The pair supplied late headed goals that turned what would have been a demoralising defeat into a much-needed victory. Loftus-Cheek had come off the bench midway through the second half at Cardiff and helped drive us into more threatening areas even before his seventh goal this season secured the points. For Azpilicueta, his impact was not a surprise.

‘I have seen a great improvement from him in the last couple of weeks,’ the Spaniard said.

‘He picked up again the injury in his back but I spoke with him and said we need him fit. He is working hard and at the moment he is more involved with the team which is what we need. At the moment he is showing his quality. In the box he showed great determination to get the header and score a very important goal for us.

‘I have known him since I came here and his big problem was injuries. He couldn’t stay with the team for a long time. he didn’t have a lot of game time which makes it more difficult to get in the rhythm of the team, but lately he has been involved. He has started games, played 90 minutes, he has been improving a lot and I’m sure he will be even more important in the future.

‘He’s understanding the game better, when he has to drive with the ball, and he has unbelievable strength. He can push past defenders, get in the box, score goals, and he defends. He is a complete player.’

Regarding the mood in the stands at the moment, Azpilicueta completely understands the fans are not happy, ‘in the same way everybody here is not happy’. He is determined to lift collective spirits starting with a good win tonight.

‘The fans have been with us in the bad moments and when we have enjoyed success. At the moment we are not giving them what they want to see in terms of performances and results. It’s up to us to turn things around.

‘We can and we should give more, and starting today we have a great opportunity to push in the same direction all together, playing good football, creating chances. I think we can do it and we should do it.

‘As soon as we give heartbeat to the fans, show spirit and the football they want to see, they are straight back to us because we all enjoy winning and we are all disappointed when the results are not there.’

‘The pressure in this club is always massive,’ added Azpilicueta as he considered the season as a whole.

‘I have been here seven years, and for everybody working in this club we all look for the best and to reach the top. When we are not at the top we are not happy with it. It’s up to us to change it.

‘We have a very exciting eight weeks in front of us where we can reach the third position and lift a trophy. We have it in our hands and it’s up to us to take it.’

Read all the talking points ahead of Chelsea v Brighton...

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