Azpilicueta: We need to rediscover our solidity

The pain of conceding decisive late goals in consecutive games will spur Chelsea on to improve defensively according to Cesar Azpilicueta, who is determined to see the Blues return to top form when Leeds visit Stamford Bridge.

It looked like we had battled hard to secure first place in our Champions League group when Timo Werner netted with five minutes of normal time remaining against Zenit St Petersburg, but there was a sting in the tail as an injury-time thunderbolt denied us a 3-2 victory and, with it, top spot. 

‘It hurts to concede a goal in the 94th minute when we have led twice,’ said Azpilicueta afterwards.

‘In the first half we played very good for 15 minutes, but then we dropped our level and we could have even been 3-1 down before half-time. There were a few minutes where we lost the pace of the game.

‘We had a good reaction in the second half and we were leading with three minutes to go, so it hurts a lot to concede. Zenit have very talented players with individual quality. They played with freedom and found spaces.

‘We are normally a team that is quite solid. We don’t concede many chances or many goals, but in the last two games we have conceded six goals and that isn’t good enough. We have to sort this problem out.’

That starts on Saturday when Leeds come to Stamford Bridge. Marcelo Bielsa’s high-pressing side will pose us similar problems to the kind Zenit did, so the Blues can expect another tricky encounter.

Nonetheless, Azpilicueta is targeting the occasion as a great opportunity to get back to winning ways and remind everyone what we are all about.

‘It’s true we are having a tough moment. In the last couple of games the performances have not been very good and that has been reflected in the results. We have to have a reaction. There is still a lot to play for.

‘In football you have to accept it, analyse and improve. We need everybody to get that extra per cent sharper, as individuals and as a team. Hopefully we can do it from Saturday already. We have to recover this solidity across the whole team.

‘We know we are not at our top level,’ added the skipper.

‘We have to have a reaction on Saturday in front of our fans, and all together try to get the win and have a good performance from the first minute, and then from there start building our confidence.’

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