Ben Chilwell discusses his eventful first Premier League appearance of the season, the wait for his chance to play and what is needed to challenge for the title…
For 25 minutes on Saturday, it looked like Ben Chilwell’s afternoon would end in disappointment. The left wing-back conceded the penalty from which Southampton equalised on the hour, and as the rain teemed down at a sodden Stamford Bridge, the Saints continued to frustrate us as we searched for a winner.
Thankfully, their resistance was broken when Timo Werner netted with six minutes remaining, and then Chilwell’s topsy-turvy day took another turn when he superbly arrowed the ball over the line after we had struck the woodwork twice.
‘I said to the assistant manager "that’s football",’ was Chilwell’s verdict on his own performance.
‘I felt I had a good game but then gave the penalty away. I just tried to bounce back from that, and got the goal in the end. I thought it hit the post so I just played on! I heard the ref’s whistle go and was a bit baffled to be fair. That’s why my celebration wasn’t really a celebration!
‘It is definitely up there with my best goals. It was kind of instinctive, it just came to the back post. The keeper was either on the floor or near the other post, so I thought if I hit the target I had a good chance.
‘The manager was happy I was getting in the positions to score,’ added Chilwell. ‘I had a couple of chances in the first half, second one could have done better, first one was a good save.
‘If you look at my stats last year, four goals, seven assists, I did pretty well in that aspect, but you can always improve. I am never satisfied with what I’ve done, and hopefully my numbers will be better than last season and I can keep improving in an attacking sense.’
To do so Chilwell will need more game time. Following a Euros in which he was in England’s squad but did not feature, the 24-year-old has been on the pitch for just 231 minutes this season, with Thomas Tuchel favouring Marcos Alonso at left wing-back.
‘I wouldn’t say it’s been frustrating,’ reflected Chilwell.
‘It’s about being patient, training hard. Marcos has been playing well and I have had to respect that. I’ve been training hard to make sure when I get my chance, I’m ready.
‘I felt fine on Saturday fitness wise. I’ve been training hard and making sure my fitness is 100 per cent, so when I did have the opportunity to play I was fine to play 90, and make sure I could make the same runs in the 90th minute as I did in the first minute.’
The proof of that was clear to see when Chilwell clinched an important three points on Saturday that returned the Blues to winning ways. With Liverpool and Manchester City drawing yesterday, we go into the October international break positioned at the Premier League’s summit.
‘We lost two games against two good teams, and we knew if we beat Southampton we would go top of the table. So we took a step back and put it into perspective.
‘We have still had a good start to the season, and the performance showed we were full of confidence and energy. We were happy to get the win and it was a good day.
‘We want to keep winning trophies,’ continued Chilwell.
‘We are a squad that is hungry to do well. If you look at the other teams that are competing to win the league, there is a lot of fierce competition. We know we have to work hard every day and bring our A-game. Consistency throughout the whole season is what we need if we want to win stuff.
‘We are confident with the strength in depth of our squad we have got more than enough to do what we need to do and win more silverware.’