Fresh from claiming his fifth Premier League assist of the season, Ben Chilwell assessed an important win in the race for a top-four finish and looked ahead to some mouth-watering action to come in the final month of the season…
Only Timo Werner now has more league assists for the Blues this term and, incidentally, it was the German who stabbed in Chilwell’s low cross to settle a tight London derby between Chelsea and West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday evening.
With both sides locked on the same number of points at kick-off, the victory handed Thomas Tuchel’s side a significant advantage in the race for Champions League qualification with just five matches remaining.
After the game, Chilwell reflected on a performance that was not our best but a result that was one of the campaign’s most important to date.
‘When you look at the game and what it meant to both teams in the fight for top four, the win was massively important and thankfully we got it,’ he said.
‘We knew before the game that physically they’re very strong, on the wings and in midfield they want to run all day and they’ve got great quality going forward. We knew what kind of game it was going to be – we were going to have few chances and would have to defend to stop them having chances.
‘The clean sheet is very big. We only got one goal and could probably have had a few more but we didn’t play our best so the win was important.’
With Liverpool having also dropped points earlier in the day, a four-point gap has now opened up between us and the Reds, with West Ham a point better off than Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Those who pore over the remaining fixtures have noted Chelsea’s difficult run-in, with Champions League and FA Cup knockout football still to play, but Chilwell sees only exciting occasions ahead. Our trip to Real Madrid for a European semi-final next week is the sort of game every player hopes for, according to the defender.
‘This is the reason I came to Chelsea,’ he explained. ‘You want to be playing in so-called cup finals every week when you’re challenging for the top four. We also have a semi-final against Read Madrid, which is the stuff you dream about as a kid, and then an FA Cup final.
‘We’re all very excited because every week there’s an important game and we’re challenging for silverware. These are the games you want to be playing in so we’re very happy to be where we are. It’s a chance to win two competitions so emotionally and physically we’re very ready for the final push.’
Chilwell has started five of the past six games for the Blues but knows competition remains fierce and any drop-off in quality will be capitalised upon by his rivals for a starting spot, both at club and international level.
The need for freshness and temptation to rotate is often tempered as the big games come thick and fast, which only adds importance to what the players do on the training pitches and away from Cobham.
‘I’m fighting with Marcos for that shirt at left wing-back and I’m fighting with Luke [Shaw] for the shirt with England so it’s fun really,’ he added. ‘The competition to be starting is what you want and it pushes you to train harder.
‘I’ve played a lot of football this season but I don’t want to miss any of what we have coming up, including the Euros. It’s a very important time in my career but as a team as well so we have to rest up as much as we can between games, recover well, train hard and take the opportunity when it comes.’