The way Chelsea overcame the tension and drama towards the end of our 3-2 win over Brighton demonstrated the fighting spirit and togetherness of this Blues team, according to Ian Maatsen.
The Dutchman came off the bench to help us see out the last 18 minutes of Sunday’s victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge, for his 10th appearance of the season under Mauricio Pochettino.
That was eventually extended to more than half-an-hour thanks to a lengthy period of added time from the officials, and it was certainly eventful for Ian Maatsen and his team-mates.
As we battled to hold on to our lead with 10 men, Brighton pulled one back at the start of those additional minutes and forced us to defend valiantly at the end, before the drama of a late penalty awarded to Brighton for handball, which was correctly overturned by VAR.
‘It was a good game,’ said Maatsen. ‘There was a lot of tension at the end, but we worked hard and stuck together as a team. We’re very happy to get these three points at home, so it will give us a good spirit for the next game.
‘We showed we can fight. There was a lot of tension at the beginning as well, but these are good challenges. At the end there was a little bit of tension from the fans, the long added time to play, the VAR, all this stuff, but I think it’s good for us.
‘We have the three points now and we’re really happy. We will take this boost to Manchester United for the next game.’
Following Conor Gallagher’s sending off for two first-half bookings, and the team’s increased number of cards in general this season, Maatsen conceded the players can do more to reduce the risk of further reds and suspensions.
However, he insists it can’t be done at the expense of reducing the team’s competitive approach to games, believing that fighting spirit was one of the biggest positives from the win over Brighton.
‘Sometimes it is the passion, but we all know we can do better or make other decisions. Yesterday that happened, we move on and we know what we have to do with each other. We will just keep working and it will be all right.
‘I think in every game you have to fight. The team really wants to fight for each other and you saw that against Brighton. On the pitch there were some good tackles, the intensity was high. We try to do that in every game.’
Ian also highlighted our continued good form in front of goal, with Sunday’s 3-2 win making it 12 scored across our last four Premier League fixtures, shared between six different players, a marked turnaround from when we struggled for goals early in the season.
‘We always used to create chances but yesterday we came in a good way up front and we did well,’ he continued.
‘I think we just need to keep going like this. We need to have time to get to know each other and it will come. It’s just about time, but yesterday we showed we can create and finish chances very well.’
In Maatsen’s eyes, though, the most important thing to come out of our last match, other than the three points, is the confidence the team will take from that victory into the next game, a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Wednesday evening.
‘Obviously today gives us a good spirit moving forward to Man United, but it’s going to be a different game so we’re going to prepare as we always do.
‘Of course yesterday we enjoyed the win, but today we are back at Cobham to reflect quickly on this game, get the positives out of it and then bring this good spirit to Man United.’