Cesar Azpilicueta believes the difference at the end of the season could come down to who adjusts best to the unusual circumstances of the next few weeks.
The skipper has always been one to pay supreme attention to detail, and he has no doubt given great thought to the changes that await us, today and beyond.
At Villa Park this afternoon Chelsea will play our first ever competitive game behind closed doors, and Azpilicueta has explained why extra preparation for the ‘new normal’ could prove pivotal when the final standings are analysed.
‘Even though we are 11 against 11, and it’s the same football, you have two extra subs, empty stadiums, a colder atmosphere, and we will have to adapt,’ explained Azpi.
‘Sometimes the fans lift you up when you are tired and now we don’t have this. It’s about the mentality as well on ourselves and our team-mates, to push each other.
‘We have played friendly games, and we could feel a bit how it looks like to play in an empty stadium. We have to adapt. Now the team that adapts quicker and better to this new situation will have an advantage over the opponents. We have been working hard on it.
‘I see a team that is ready,’ added Azpilicueta. ‘We have been working and waiting a long time to be ready for this first game. Let’s see.
‘The confidence of the team is high and we should play with confidence. We have the quality but we have to be ready to fight as well against a tough team. To start well after this break is very important. We should look sharper as the games go on, but we are ready mentally.’
While of course the focus at Cobham in recent weeks has been on training and preparations for the season resumption, more good work has been done away from the grass with the acquisition of Timo Werner. Subject to passing a medical he will join the Blues for next season, along with Hakim Ziyech.
‘We are excited,’ said Azpilicueta of the two signings. ‘Both are very good players.
‘We faced Ziyech this year and we could see his potential and his left foot. Timo is a young striker who has good experience of German football, the Champions League and international football, so he’s a big addition for us.
‘It’s good to get it done early because that means whenever pre-season starts they will be with the squad and their preparation will start early. They will have time to adapt. Hopefully now they can show their quality as soon as possible in a blue shirt.’