‘You cannot rely on scoring three goals every game’

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‘You cannot rely on scoring three goals every game’: Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta says the Blues must find a solution to their leaky defence to compete for honours this season
Blues have conceded an average of 1.5 goals per game since start of last season
Chelsea threw away a 2-0 and 3-2 lead to draw with Southampton on Saturday
Azpilicueta says the team must improve at the back to be successful this term

Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta has admitted that his team cannot keep conceding such a high rate of goals if they want accomplish anything this season.

The west London club go into the match on the back of conceding three goals in a game for the 2nd time this season, after Southampton claimed a point at Stamford Bridge with a late equaliser.

Frank Lampard’s side conceded 54 goals last season, the most in a campaign since Roman Abramovich purchased the club in 2003.

Since the club legend was appointed manager in July of last year, an average of 1.5 goals have been shipped per game.

Ahead of the match against Sevilla, Azipilicueta offered no excuses and insisted his side must do better.

‘What is clear is that if we want to fight for everything we have to improve defensively,’ he told the pre-match press conference. ‘This is a problem we have to fix collectively and individually. Sometimes you can get away with it but you cannot rely every game on having to score three goals.

‘You have to dig in and get a clean sheet. It’s very important for the confidence of the team to have this solidity. We have to start getting this consistency of not conceding goals. When you have the solidity defensively, it gives a boost to the whole team, to the attacking players to create chances.

‘When you are defensively weak sometimes we feel like we have to score three or four goals every game. As a defender, I feel bad when you concede so many goals. We have to improve our personal mistakes and collectively take better decisions.

‘Through the season you are not going to be playing beautiful football and winning three or four-nil every game. When you don’t you have to get results.’

Chelsea’s defensive issues are inextricably linked to goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s form, he was at fault for Southampton’s second goal on Saturday, failing to claim the ball after he raced off his line.

Rennes keeper Edouard Mendy was signed to replace the £72million Spaniard, but he picked up an injury on international duty resulting in a recall for Kepa.

Azpilicueta played a key role in helping Kepa adapt to life in England when he arrived two years ago, he believes the Spanish international is doing everything to overcome a dark period in his career ahead of their Champions League opener.

‘In football, we have difficult times. In my position as captain, obviously, I know him from a long time ago. I always try to help him,’ the Chelsea skipper added. ‘Sometimes you feel like everything goes against you. You have to have the character and personality to face it.

‘I have no doubt Kepa will work hard to reverse the situation. The whole squad are fighting for targets as a collective. When you are a goalkeeper, it’s a completely different situation but he will keep working hard, giving his best.’

Chelsea have lost in the last sixteen in each of their previous four appearances in the Champions League, their latest defeat a 7-1 aggregate thrashing against eventual winners Bayern Munich last season.

The Blues have since looked to close the gap between themselves and those at the top of the European game by signing stars such as Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.

As captain Azpilicueta has helped the club’s summer arrivals settle and hopes the quality brought in will propel his side to greater heights.

‘In my role as captain, I tried to help whenever I can because we know how football works,’ he added. ‘We didn’t have much time this pre-season. From my experience, I always tried to welcome them and integrate as quickly as possible.

‘We have new faces from different countries and cultures. I try to mix all together and integrate and have that stability that we need. We know how the Champions League works and from the first day, we have to be ready for it.

‘Since I first arrived in 2012 I always had the confidence and belief that we could fight for everything. It’s true we didn’t start the way we wanted to in the Premier League and the cup, but the Champions League is a completely new challenge. We have to be ready for it because we are going to play a strong team.’

‘In my role as captain, I tried to help whenever I can because we know how football works,’ he added. ‘We didn’t have much time this pre-season. From my experience, I always tried to welcome them and integrate as quickly as possible.

‘We have new faces from different countries and cultures. I try to mix all together and integrate and have that stability that we need. We know how the Champions League works and from the first day, we have to be ready for it.

‘Since I first arrived in 2012 I always had the confidence and belief that we could fight for everything. It’s true we didn’t start the way we wanted to in the Premier League and the cup, but the Champions League is a completely new challenge. We have to be ready for it because we are going to play a strong team.’


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