After featuring in the Premier League for the first time since October during our win against West Ham, captain Cesar Azpilicueta admitted that a return to winning ways was the most important thing for the Blues as they jumped back into the top five with a 3-0 victory.
The skipper was influential at the back, defending the box impressively as he came into the side for the injured Reece James.
Although the Spaniard has made a dozen appearances already this season, only half of those have come in the league as he rotates more regularly during a congested campaign.
‘It was good to be back,’ he said after the game. ‘I’ve been playing more in the Champions League but it’s true that in the Premier League, I haven’t been involved since Old Trafford.
‘It has been a while but my job is to work hard to improve every day and, whenever the manager needs me to step up, do the best job I can. To win was important and we did well.’
Graft and character were words Frank Lampard used to describe the team’s performance, with Azpilicueta in agreement that the hosts had to weather the storm at times in the west London rain.
However, after back-to-back defeats, it was one of those nights where the result mattered more than a sparkling performance.
‘The way they play, they put you under pressure,’ explained the 31-year-old. ‘At only 1-0, the game was open and we had to suffer.
‘When you come from two defeats, you have to recover that spirit of winning and we did that. We know we can improve our game but from the mental point of view, and how we defended all together the crossing of balls and the set-play settings, we did well altogether because they are one of the best teams in England on that.’
'‘When you come from two defeats, you have to recover that spirit of winning and we did that.'
— Cesar Azpilicueta
Next up is a trip to the Emirates, a stage on which Azpilicueta scored his first Chelsea goal seven years ago and the Blues ran out 2-1 winners last December. Yet Arsenal got one over us in the FA Cup final back in August and, despite their lowly position in the Premier League table, that means they must not be underestimated.
‘We were obviously disappointed with that result but now we’re four months later, it’s a different competition and a new game,’ added the skipper. ‘They are not in their best form but we know their qualities and that they have dangerous players so we have to cope with that.
‘We respect them and we know it’s going to be tough but we need points so hopefully we can go there and play our game. We have the confidence and belief to do that and obviously we will try to get the points.’