Analysis

Ruben Loftus-Cheek gives update on his condition and explains how Chelsea overcame Watford

The midfielder, who has enjoyed a strong end to the season, also reacts to praise from Maurizio Sarri and looks forward to a big Europa League night…

In one of Maurizio Sarri’s interviews given in the wake of defeating Watford on Sunday afternoon, the boss predicted that opening goalscorer Ruben Loftus-Cheek has the potential to become one of the best midfielders in Europe.

It has certainly been a strong end to the season for the 23-year-old who now has 38 appearances to his name in 2018/19. He is one short of double figures for goals having headed the Blues into the lead shortly after half-time in what ran out as a 3-0 victory.

‘It makes me feel really good and he always gives me confidence,’ said Loftus-Cheek when asked to comment on Sarri’s words.

‘He is honest with me and he has been honest with me all season, told me what I needed to get better at to play and I had to work hard. Now I am playing more so it gives me great confidence but I still keep my head down and work.

‘I played a lot on the wing at the start of the season, more offensively, and he said I needed to get better at defensive awareness, pressing better which I have been trying to do in training and I think it helps when you are fitter. I am getting fitter because I am playing more so that comes hand in hand and I am getting better.’
 

Aiding that process is the management of a back condition which did cause Loftus-Cheek to miss matches earlier in the campaign.

‘I have worked really hard on that with the physios and it is something I have had since I was 16 or 17, so I have had to deal with it but I feel the best I have felt so I just need to carry on what I am doing, just manage it with the physios and hopefully it will be alright. I think it will.’

At half-time in yesterday’s game it was hard to imagine Chelsea would finish the day qualified for the Champions League. Our opponents Watford had enjoyed more of the efforts on goal and Kepa Arrizabalaga had pulled off one stunning save. Elsewhere, Manchester United were at that stage beating bottom club Huddersfield and Arsenal were yet to kick-off at home to recent strugglers Brighton.

However, all worked out in our favour and Loftus-Cheek revealed the half-time instructions prior to a strong Chelsea showing from the restart at Stamford Bridge.
 

‘He [Sarri] said at half-time that Watford had too much time on the ball, we were sloppy, giving the ball away and we had to press more aggressively and not give them too much time on the ball. We did that, we won the ball back in their half and put them under pressure and once we started doing that the goals came, so it was a really good second-half performance.’

Read: Key Statistics from Chelsea v Watford
 

With one target achieved, next up it is the conclusion of our Europa League semi-final when we host Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

‘I am really looking forward to it,’ said our young midfielder. ‘The atmosphere at their stadium was magnificent but to take it back to the Bridge with an away goal puts us in good stead. We have to be focused and I am sure we will do well.’
 

MORE FROM CHELSEA