Cesar Azpilicueta has been analysing what went wrong against Sheffield United and feels the players must accept that they were outfought by the Blades.
Chelsea endured a torrid time at Bramall Lane, as we came out second best to a well-organised and hard-working Sheffield United side, suffering a 3-0 defeat by the final whistle which leaves our chances of Champions League qualification hanging in the balance.
Looking back at Saturday’s loss, Azpilicueta felt a combination of being outfought by their opponents and lacking urgency when going forward cost us the game.
‘It was really bad since the kick-off,’ said our captain. ‘They put the long ball and we gave straight away a corner. So we were not ready to compete. We knew that they are a very organised team, that they know very well what they have to do, and to be fair we didn’t find spaces.
‘I think we shot once in the first half and every time they played the long ball they looked dangerous. We lost that fight and we knew it was a massive game and we lost a big opportunity.’
While the Spaniard was quick to recognise the qualities of our opponents, he is keen to focus more on our own failings and where we can do better next time out.
‘They are a well organised team, they don’t concede many goals, but we were not sharp enough, we were not quick enough to move the ball to find the attacking players in good positions. We were quite flat on the passes, going sideways, backwards.
‘We were not dangerous in attacking the space, creating spaces for our team-mates and obviously when we concede the goals that we have conceded it is difficult and something that is a big issue we are having through the season. We are conceding a lot of goals, and it is like against Crystal Palace you have to score three goals to win the game and this time we were not even able to score one.’
Azpilicueta also dismissed the idea that the changing tactics we employed in trying to get back into the game at Bramall Lane contributed to our poor performance.
‘It was more about the desire, about the determination, that they were always ahead of us, that they were more determined than us, always they put the toe in before us. So these kind of things, the 50-50s and second balls, it doesn’t matter the shape.’