Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta believes we fully deserved our Carabao Cup semi-final win over Tottenham Hotspur, but already has his sights firmly set on lifting the trophy at Wembley next month.
Having secured a healthy 2-0 lead over Tottenham in last week’s first leg at Stamford Bridge, the Blues finished the job in north London with another win, this time 1-0, to ensure we would be the ones facing Liverpool or Arsenal in this season’s final.
While we didn’t have things all our own way in the second leg, with VAR intervening on three occasions to deny the home team two penalties and a goal, albeit correctly, Azpilicueta is left in no doubt we were the best team over the two games, even if we could have done better.
‘Firstly we are happy to get into another final,’ said our skipper. ‘Of course the game was maybe not our best, we could have scored more goals, we could have controlled the game better, but we got the job done. Through two legs we beat them 3-0 and now we have to prepare for the final.
‘I think we were better than them. In the first leg we could have scored more goals. In the second game we started really well but the second half we didn’t have real chances. We could have made better choices and picked the right player to be more dangerous and we lost a bit of control. So at the end maybe the feeling is a bit different, but of course we’re happy to go through.’
Antonio Rudiger headed in the winning goal, scoring away at Tottenham for the second time this season. It was also his third goal of 2021/22, equalling his best tally for a single season at Chelsea with four months of the campaign remaining, leaving Azpilicueta impressed by the trouble he is causing in the opposition’s box.
‘He’s getting very dangerous, scoring goals. He is a great threat on set-plays and in this game he made the difference with the goal and, of course, with his defensive contribution.
‘Toni has developed really well since he arrived. He has had a very big impact. Now he’s even a big threat on set-plays, which is amazing. The aggression that he has, the way he plays with the ball, it’s a pleasure to have him in our team.’
The main thing on Azpilicueta’s mind following our semi-final victory, though, is the prospect of a cup final at Wembley, and the chance to lift more silverware as Chelsea captain.
It will be our third final since Thomas Tuchel arrived as head coach a year ago – or possibly our fourth, with the FIFA Club World Cup to come at the start of February – following last season’s Champions League and FA Cup.
However, the Spaniard insists it is in this Blues side's DNA to always be looking for the next trophy and try to keep winning in every competition we play in.
‘In less than one year to be in three finals, it is amazing, but now we want to win. When we lost together in the FA Cup final, it hurts a lot, and now we have the chance with the Carabao Cup and we have to go step by step. I think the team is improving a lot, we have still big room for more improvement and we have to keep working.
‘That’s the aim when we start every competition, we want to get as far as possible and fight for trophies. Of course we are happy to get through, to play in another final, but now we want more, we want the trophy. Once you get in the final you don’t want to just be happy to be there, you want to win it, and we will do our best.
‘A trophy is a trophy. Here at Chelsea we don’t make selections of trophies, we go for everything. The big ones have more impact, but what we all want is to be able to celebrate silverware with the fans at the end of the season.’