Ruben Loftus-Cheek says the exciting end to this season is the kind of moment that professional footballers like him live for.
Going into the match against Watford, our fate is in our own hands as we fight for a top-four finish in the Premier League and qualification for next season’s Champions League, plus our semi-final in the Europa League also finely balanced following a 1-1 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.
However, midfielder Loftus-Cheek is delighted to be competing on two fronts at this stage of the campaign and relishing the challenge.
‘It’s the business end of the season and this is what being a footballer is about, especially when you’re at a top side where you’re in big games,’ said Loftus-Cheek. ‘We have to have that ability to switch our focus on different competitions. We need to be fully focused on the Europa League, then quickly switch around to the Premier League. It’s a challenge, but we have to be at that high level.
‘The Europa League is a great competition, but the Champions League is just the best of the best. Chelsea are one of the biggest clubs in the world and we definitely need to be playing in the Champions League every season.
‘It’s down to us and if we don’t then I think we’ll have underachieved, because we have a good team that has great potential, so we really want to fight for the top four in the last couple of games of the season.’
The 23-year-old also discussed how much he has learned about himself this season, on and off the pitch, as he adapts to managing his body through the rigours of such a long campaign and gets to grips with the back problem which has plagued him in recent years.
‘My confidence is growing. With my fitness, the last time I played a full season without injury was when I was 17, and that was the season I played half a season because I moved up to the first team, so I don’t think I’ve every really played a full season, through my younger days as well.
‘So it’s been a difficult journey, but I think I’ve learned a lot about my body and I have to take care of it. I’m finding that balance of routine now to keep myself feeling good and the more games I play I’ll get fitter and fitter, so it’s building. I feel good at the moment and we’ve got a routine here at Chelsea that me and the physios have worked on to help me feel good.
‘It’s not something new to me. I’ve had to deal with it through my life, but having to deal with it at a younger age has helped me now to keep my head. I have to keep working hard and one day I’ll get it right and be flying.’