Cesar Azpilicueta admitted that Chelsea had to suffer in order to preserve the points at Watford on Saturday after failing to close out the game with further goals while we were on top.
The final 10 minutes of the contest were particularly nervy for the Blues as our 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic was halved by a VAR-awarded penalty converted by Gerard Deulofeu.
There were plenty of pleasing aspects in the performance, and the result secured a fifth straight league win for Frank Lampard’s side, though Azpilicueta insisted the team must be better at putting games to bed in future otherwise points may be lost.
‘Especially in the first 25 minutes of the first half, we were very dominant,’ he reflected afterwards. ‘We were controlling the game, we scored the first goal and we had chances to score the second but we didn’t do it so the game went to the opposite side and they created a few chances.
‘We scored a second but at the end we had to suffer for the last 10 minutes and that’s our fault not to score more goals when we had the chance to score and be more clinical. We know in the Premier League when you are 2-0 up there is nothing for granted and you have to suffer until the end so that’s the one for us to try to be more clinical and close the games down.’
Our goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was the man mobbed with congratulatory hugs and thanks at the final whistle after his outstretched hand down low to the left kept out a header from Ben Foster, his opposite number, in the final action of stoppage time. Like the rest of his team-mates, Azpilicueta was grateful for the efforts of his compatriot.
‘It was a great save from Kepa that gave us two extra points - that’s the reality,’ added the 30-year-old. ‘I’m very pleased because we know from everybody that we need goals but sometimes we need his saves as well and this was a crucial save.’
VAR was once again the major talking point of a Premier League weekend, with incidents across the country causing controversy. At Vicarage Road, following a lengthy consultation with Mike Dean in the VAR suite at Stockley Park, referee Anthony Taylor changed his original decision to award Watford a penalty for a foul by Jorginho on Deulofeu.
It was a decision that changed the complete vibe of the game, with the hosts left to chase an equaliser in the final 10 minutes. As club captain, Azpilicueta has been invited to several player meetings to discuss the system in recent months and he does not believe the technology is currently being maximised by the officials in England.
‘We have had a lot of meetings regarding VAR and I’m happy to help whenever they need it,’ continued the Spaniard. ‘My biggest disappointment is that we’re not using the full system in the right way. There is a screen by the pitch for the referee to look and see why he made the decision not to whistle.
‘Instead of being in the middle of the pitch, he can go to the touchline and see as many replays as he needs. It’s a big decision so I think it’s worth spending an extra minute to make the right decision.
‘The system was implemented in the Premier League to help the referees make the right decisions. They are human just like the players so they make mistakes and the VAR is there to help when it’s a clear and obvious mistake. The VAR is very clear so sometimes it’s difficult to understand why we are not using it properly.’