Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has issued a rallying cry to his teammates, calling for ‘improvements’ at both ends of the pitch ahead of their defining Champions League fixture.
The Blues fell to a 3-1 reversal at Goodison Park against a Duncan Ferguson-inspired Everton and face a crucial match with Lille in Europe on Tuesday.
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- Despite an emphatic start to the season, cracks are starting to appear in Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
- The Blues lost 1-0 to West Ham last week and have now suffered defeat against strugglers Everton.
- Chelsea have conceded 17 goals in eight games away from home – more than any other Premier League club.
- Azpilicueta and Co face a three-way battle for qualification to the knockout stages in Europe on Tuesday against Lille.
- The Chelsea skipper has now called for his side to improve both defensively, and in front of goal.
Frank Lampard’s men lost momentum in their pursuit of a top-four Premier League finish over the weekend, as Manchester United reduced the gap to just five points after their triumph in the Manchester derby on Saturday night.
But, the west Londoners will have to put domestic concerns to one side as they face Ligue 1 club Lille in a potentially season-defining game at Stamford Bridge later this week.
Chelsea can secure qualification to the first knockout round with a win against Lille, but Azpilicueta says the capital club must first resolve issues at both ends of the pitch if they are to stand a chance.
“Defence is an area where we have to improve but we are not strong enough in both boxes right now,” he told the club’s official website.
“We are conceding a lot and when we arrive in the dangerous areas, we are not clinical enough to score our chances.
“It’s a major problem because in football the key is to be clinical in both boxes and at the moment we are not strong enough in both of them so we have to work on that.”
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“On Tuesday we have a final”
Azpilicueta refused to mince his words when discussing Tuesday’s Group H match. The Spaniard is under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead against Lille and the ramifications it could have on Chelsea’s season, as he described the encounter as a “final”.
He added: “Our target is to win every game and on Tuesday we have a final, it’s like the knockout stage already for us.
“We have to win to go through and we have to be ready because we cannot play like that today.
“The Champions League is the highest level and we have to be ready for it.”