Cesar Azpilicueta has called on everyone at Chelsea to show what we are made of, as a string of massive matches over the next two weeks could go a long way towards deciding our fate in all four competitions.
With our FA Cup fifth-round match with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Monday evening, followed by the League Cup final against Manchester City, the hosting of top-four rivals Tottenham in the Premier League and the second leg of our Europa League tie with Malmo all to come before the end of February, the Spaniard is well aware of what an important stage of the campaign this could be.
With that in mind, he wants to see the team returning to the level of consistency which ensured we enjoyed such a promising start to the season.
‘We have been inconsistent and it’s not the way of reaching the targets because we know, especially in the Premier League, how tough it can be,’ Azpilicueta said.
‘We need to be consistent. It is true that you cannot play every game the way you want to play, sometimes you have difficult opponents, but we have had a lot of ups and downs.
‘For Chelsea it is not our level and we know that. We need to get it right, going in the right direction, because in the next couple of weeks we will play the whole season and we have to be ready for it.
‘In 15 days we can be with a trophy, we can be in the next round of the FA Cup. Obviously every time is closer to the final, it is the quarter-final if we get through Man United. In the Europa League we will be playing until the international break if we get through as well. So every game is like a final.
‘We know that in the Premier League we don’t have room for mistakes so the next big game, which will be at home against Tottenham, it’s a derby, it’s a special game, and we have to be ready, but we will have to go step by step starting on Monday.’
However, he also feels that it is these kind of moments that allows a team to show what they are made of, and wants this Blues side to show we can rise from adversity and triumph when it really matters.
‘It’s the moment that you have to show your personality. When you win it’s easier to go in the right direction, but when we suffer bad moments it is the moment to show your personality, your character. The way to stick together to fight for the club, for the fans.’
Of course, the run of important matches begins in the FA Cup with the visit to the Bridge of Manchester United, and Azpilicueta knows we will have to be at our best to beat a rejuvenated Red Devils side, despite the memories of defeating them at Wembley to lift the trophy last season.
‘We know that Monday is a tough game, it’s the FA Cup and we know how big is that game, and we have to show our level and be at our best because we will need it.
‘We know that at the moment we are arriving almost to the end of the season so every game is like a final and starting on Monday we need to go game by game. We know how special is the FA Cup, a game against Manchester United. We are the current champions [of that competition], so it is a massive game and we have to be ready for it.
‘In the final of last year we were playing against Man United. At home, big atmosphere, big game, we have to be ready because they are in a good moment despite losing against PSG. But I hope it’s a great game and we get through.’