Another significant step forward in the progress of this Chelsea side under Frank Lampard is how captain Cesar Azpilicueta described Sunday evening’s beating of Tottenham on their own patch.
There was a time when Blues fans were justifiably able to refer to our local rivals’ former stadium White Hart Lane as ‘Three Point Lane’, such was our good record there in the late 1980s, throughout the ‘90s and with some notable games in the early part of the 2000s, but it diminished in more recent times despite our victory in Spurs’ first game when they were calling Wembley their temporary home. Yesterday was reminiscent of those previous good days out in London N17, and the fact the victory came on the back of what has been a sticky patch of form pleased Azpilicueta especially.
‘Following the international break we were not finding the consistency to win games,’ he said after the 2-0 win.
‘We have been conceding a lot of goals, we did not win points, it is a fact that we lost many games for Chelsea and now we have come to Tottenham to play a team that were in good form and we showed great spirit, we fought and we know what it means for the fans and for all of us. That spirit made a huge difference in the game.
‘We cannot forget the young players and where they were last year when they were playing a different competition and they were playing in different circumstances,’ he added.
‘We know that Chelsea requires the highest level in every game and that means playing every three days in the Champions League and in the Premier League, every game fighting to win and be at the top, so we have to respect that and the young players have shown great spirit and great mentality to grow day by day, together with the staff and with the coach.
‘We the senior players try to help them as much as possible but they have shown a great strength and it is one more step towards their development. I am very pleased with the whole team.’
It was an altered role for Azpilicueta in Sunday’s game, with the defence modified to a back three in the centre and he and the returning Marcos Alonso asked to play as wing-backs. It yielded our first Premier League clean sheet of the season away from home, as well as Willian’s two goals.
‘It feels very good for us, for the fans, to come here and win after a run that was not the best, and to keep a clean sheet,’ said the skipper. ‘It is a very good win. We prepared very well during the week, we knew that we were coming to play against a tough team but we did our job, we knew that we had to recover that fighting spirit and that it was a London derby with what that means to everybody in Chelsea.
‘We did very well, with the quality we have in the team like with Willian with these two goals and every piece of football he did in the game was amazing. We fought and we played some very good football.
‘It is due to the whole team doing an amazing job and I am very happy with it.’
It was not all smiles at Spurs on Sunday however, with reports of racist abuse aimed at Toni Rudiger after he was involved in an incident which resulted in a red card for Heung-Min Son. The referee stopped the game to talk to players and to both managers, and stadium announcements appealed for a halt to such behaviour. Rudiger shared his view on Twitter after the game.
Azpilicueta described his part in the proceedings.
‘What is clear is first of all we are Chelsea, a club that is very active and raises a lot of campaigns against racism,’ he began. ‘Every time we meet the Premier League, and the referees before the game, we are told to report it if any incident happens so in the game, after the red card it happened and Toni came to me and he told me that he was hearing in the crowd monkey noises and my job as a captain is to go straight to the ref and report it. Now there is an investigation and we have to work altogether towards the eradication of the problem. It is an issue in life and in football unfortunately, and we need to keep working hard work towards the eradication of the problem.’
On a personal note, the captain was replaced 10 minutes before the end of the game with what appeared to be a muscle concern.
‘Hopefully with the Christmas presents I will get fit to play on Boxing Day,’ was his comment on that.