Chelsea’s marathon 63-game campaign is reaching its conclusion with just two one fixture remaining. On the day of our meeting with Watford, Mateo Kovacic has reflected on 2021/22 and the ups and downs along the way.

Like many of our squad, injury and illness have disrupted Kovacic’s season, but when he has been on the pitch the Croatian has shone bright. He has racked up 44 appearances, started each of the four finals we have contested, scored one of the goals of the season, against Liverpool, and arguably produced his best showing in the Bernabeu when we came so close to completing a remarkable comeback. It highlighted his big-game pedigree.

Always the team player, Kovacic prefers to focus on the collective effort. This is what he makes of the past nine months.

‘In my opinion it can be viewed as a successful season, not the perfect season, but a very good season,’ opines Kovacic.

‘We got two trophies, one which Chelsea never got, so it’s a proud moment to be the first team to have won the Club World Cup. With all our problems, we still reached two cup finals. It’s still a big achievement. If we had won one more trophy more, it would be a very, very good season.

‘We had a very good first spell of the season. Then unfortunately we had some injuries, and some Covid cases, and we had our problems, but in the end we have managed to get into the top four, even if we should have done it even earlier.

‘In life and in football you have bad moments and good moments,' he adds. 'We had very good moments over the last year, and unfortunately in the last two finals, two disappointments, but we will come back stronger for sure.’

Kovacic chooses the Club World Cup triumph in Abu Dhabi as our biggest achievement, and of the recent praise showered on him by Thomas Tuchel, the 28-year-old admits it’s ‘a good feeling that gives me more motivation to work even harder and be better every day’.

A determined figure who has achieved so much in the game, Kovacic never stops wanting more. A Premier League title is missing from his CV.

‘We can compete with the very best for sure, we have shown that against Liverpool this season, but what we are missing is consistency, doing it every three days,’ he explains.

‘It’s even more difficult to compete with the consistency of Liverpool and City. They don’t drop too many points, and in the last three or four years they have been on such a high level.

‘So that’s the only thing we need to improve. It’s not easy, but with the manager we have and the players we have, we can do it.’

And when we do, Kovacic will be at the heart of it all.