Azpilicueta on reacting to adversity and rediscovering normality in 2021

While pleased with an improved performance from the team, there was still frustration in the Chelsea dressing room after two home points dropped against Aston Villa on Monday evening, with captain Cesar Azpilicueta happy at least with the response to adversity.

The Blues were pegged back early in the second half, having taken the lead through Olivier Giroud’s stooping header. Despite having plenty of time to find a winner, the game’s third goal eluded both Frank Lampard’s side and their visitors, who did hit the crossbar in an open finale. 

It meant we picked up just four points from five games during the festive period but Azpilicueta, starting at right-back for the second time in three matches, felt there were positives in the collective display.

‘We needed a reaction after Saturday’s performance but we’re disappointed not to get the three points,’ he explained. 

‘We talked about showing more character because we were very disappointed with the result and the performance [against Arsenal]. We were far from the level this group has shown a few weeks ago. 

'From the first minute, the team competed well. We pushed until the end to get the three points but we couldn’t find a way.’

The skipper pinpointed the importance of fine margins and claimed the absence of Andreas Christensen in the 18-yard box as Anwar El Ghazi volleyed in Villa’s equaliser was clearly a factor in the team conceding. The Dane had been injured in a tackle with Jack Grealish moments earlier and lay face down in the turf as our lead was cancelled out.

‘We know how tough the Premier League is and how important every detail is,’ Azpilicueta went on.

‘When you lose a centre-back on the ground, you are one body less in the box. It was a good cross and they finished at the back post.’

‘People are going through tough periods but we have to try and remain positive.'

photo of Cesar Azpilicueta Cesar Azpilicueta

The draw brings an underwhelming end to a turbulent year, our final game of 2020 ending with the points shared. Looking ahead, the club captain is hopeful that normality can return at some point in the not-too-distant future but, until then, he urged everyone to remain on high alert, with Covid-19 cases rising rapidly in football and wider society.

‘I would like to see the stadium full of fans,’ the 31-year-old said of his hopes for 2021. ‘That would be a sign we are going back to normality. Unfortunately, since March it has been difficult for a lot of people. So many jobs are at risk so it is a moment to stay responsible and follow the rules. 

‘People are going through tough periods but we have to try and remain positive. Hopefully we can get over this being better and I am sure we will enjoy every second more.’