Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta has said that the defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last January spurs his team on as the Blues take on their London neighbours tomorrow.
In the identical fixture last season, a Harry Kane double inspired the North Londoners to storm to a 5-3 victory on New Year’s Day at White Hart Lane.
However the Spaniard has said that it only acts as encouragement for the Blues, who will look to win back-to-back league games for the first time this season.
“The defeat there in January was hard to take,” acknowledges Azpilicueta.
“At that moment we had completely lost the advantage we had over Man City. But the defeat made us stronger and as a team we found a way to keep pushing.
“Tomorrow is another important game. It’s a derby and we know we will have massive support from our fans. We are not in the position we would like to be in but we are where we are. We want to keep our recent run going and to keep doing the right things we have been doing in the past couple of games.
“We had been conceding a lot of goals but we have won the past two with clean sheets and scoring a few goals. That has helped our confidence a lot. We haven’t always got the results we deserved but it’s a case of continuing to work hard and the results will come.”
Speaking to the official Chelsea website as part of their ‘Weekend Interview,’ Azpilicueta has spoken of his enjoyment of his time at Stamford Bridge, having moved to the club in 2012. Since that time, he has won three major trophies and made over 150 appearances in a Chelsea shirt.
“I have felt part of this club since the day I arrived, even though I wasn’t playing at the beginning.
“I was involved in the group, I was involved every day in training and even though I wasn’t playing everybody helped me. I always felt the confidence of the club and the manager, so I kept working and trying to take the chances I had. All that was in my mind was succeeding and being a part of the club.”
But it was four weeks after moving from Marseille to west London that Azpilicueta debuted for his new team, in a routine win over then-League 1 side Wolves in the third round of the Capital One Cup.
“I felt very tired afterwards because I had extra pressure and extra motivation playing my first game for a new club,” Azpilicueta said.
“I was nervous, too. I knew I hadn’t arrived as a big signing and not many people in this country knew who I was but that was okay, it wasn’t a problem. I just wanted to show my qualities.
“When you arrive at a big club it’s a challenge: to adapt to a new league, a new language, everything. I was adapting step by step and I was very pleased to come here. My goal was just to keep improving.
“I have changed quite a lot since then,” he adds. “I have had the chance to work with the best manager and with the best players. The club have all the facilities to help you improve. I have played on the left side, too. It’s my fourth season here and I have improved. Now I want to keep growing with the club and with the team, and to keep developing as a player.”
The 26-year-old has said that he singles out winning the Europa League, the Capital One Cup and the Premier League as the high points of his Chelsea career so far, none greater than the day last May when Chelsea secured their first title in five years after beating Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.
He also spoke of his pride of establishing himself as a regular in Vincente del Bosque’s Spanish squad, after making his international debut in February 2013. Playing for Chelsea has helped him achieve that target, he says:
“When you stay at the same club, a big club with big players, you pick up some good experiences. Personally I like to win every day. This is how I am.
“Sometimes I cannot accept defeat. I like to win even in training. I cannot change that; the day I do will probably be the day I retire!”