Analysis

Azpilicueta: Recovering ground and doing the dirty work

Cesar Azpilicueta had cause for celebration last night in the form of yet another clean sheet and three more precious Premier League points as our quest to finish in a Champions League place intensified.

The skipper put in another rock-solid defensive display to help limit Everton, a top-four rival, to almost no clear chances. From his position on the right side of the back three he recorded two tackles, two interceptions and three clearances, as well as setting up a great chance for Timo Werner.

The victory was our sixth in nine unbeaten league games under Thomas Tuchel, and the shutout our ninth in 11 matches overall since the German arrived. That run of form has left us in a very strong position on three separate fronts as the campaign enters its climax.

‘We know we had to recover the ground we lost and every victory is a step forward,’ said the skipper.

‘It was a very good performance. Everton have been getting very good results and we know they are tough, but our team worked perfectly. We played as a team with and without the ball. It’s very pleasing to see the team fighting for the ball and we could have scored even more goals.

‘From the striker to the goalkeeper the team is working very hard. Everyone is doing their dirty job. If you see the way we fight for the ball, the way the strikers press the ball and allow the defenders to push the line high, it’s dangerous. I’m very happy with that because you need that effort in the Premier League.

‘We know how tough it is to replicate it every three days. We are in the right way but we are still far from where we want to be. We have to keep working because we haven’t done anything yet.’

Azpilicueta is the only man not to have missed a league minute under Tuchel, with the new boss unafraid to shuffle his pack as the intense schedule continues. Last night he made five changes to his starting XI but you wouldn’t have known such was the fluency of our performance.

‘That’s a collective mindset,’ explained Azpi.

‘When you play for Chelsea, one of the top clubs in the world, you have to fight for your place. Nothing comes easy. When you step on the pitch you have to be at your best.

‘In every training session, even when you don’t play, everybody trains very hard, and that’s why when the changes come everybody is ready.

‘We have the same idea. Sometimes we adapt to different systems, sometimes in the same system different players which means there is a different style of play, but the most important thing is we are all thinking in the same way.’

It all bodes well for what is set to be an exciting finale to this most unusual season.

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