Azpilicueta: Chelsea youngsters learning killer instinct and deserve patience

The Blues captain is happy with the direction his team are heading in long-term but admits to short-term issues which need addressing

Cesar Azpilicueta has called for patience with Chelsea’s young forward line after they failed to kill off a game at Brighton which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Aside from Willian, the Blues fielded a young attacking unit at the Amex which included Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount.

An 84th-minute overhead kick from Alireza Jahanbakhsh earned the Seagulls a point against Frank Lampard’s side, who remain in fourth place despite failing to find inspiration on the south coast.

There was a sense of disappointment for Chelsea after the match, with another two points slipping the net, but Azpilicueta believes the club’s youngsters have earned patience after keeping Champions League qualification in their own hands.

The Spanish defender said: “Well, we have had ups and downs. We have had an amazing run of games where we were winning. Then in the last few games we haven’t found consistency and lost a lot of points, especially at home.

“That is something we are trying to improve on as quickly as possible because to be at the top; we need to find consistency at home. We need to be solid again and to recover our home form because we know every game is difficult but we know with our position that it is in our hands.

“We have it in our hands. We are in fourth position and if we do our job, then we will finish in the top four. It is up to us; we know that we have a lot of games. We know that for the second part of the season we have the FA Cup and Champions League coming in.

“When we were winning back-to-back, we were winning as a team. Now we don’t win; it is up to us. We work together to try to get it because we cannot forget that we have young players around, but we are Chelsea.

“Every time we go to the pitch, we go to win. In every game, we show that we want to win. It is true that sometimes we are not at our level but it is up to us to raise it to get to where we want to be.

“We cannot forget where most of them were last season. They were playing in different environments and circumstances. It is their first year in the Premier League and they are doing amazingly well, it is part of the process and we need to keep it all together.

“We are very happy that after the hard work from the academy coaches and staff that these young lads have their opportunities. Some are coming back from loans; some are from the academy and directly now with us. It is part of their progress and I am sure that they will keep us growing as a team.”

Chelsea enjoyed notable wins away at Tottenham and Arsenal in December, but they also lost to relegation-threatened West Ham, Everton, Southampton and Bournemouth.

Brighton are another of those in a scrap for survival this season and Azpilicueta admits his side need to find a way of edging past such opponents.

He added: “Sometimes through games, you have better periods than in others so when you are on top of them you have to try to make the most of it and it is not the first time it happens that we are better than them and we don’t put the game to bed. At 1-0, you risk it. Today we were punished in the second half.

“We started very well. We controlled the game. We scored the first one and we could have killed the game in the first 45 minutes we were much better than them but we were not able to do it. Then, we lost a bit of control and Kepa made good saves to get at least a point from the game.

“When you don’t win, it is always bad. At Chelsea, we fight every time to win the games. When we don’t win we are not happy and we came here to get back-to-back wins in the Premier League which we haven’t done in a while and we were not able to start the year in a good position.”

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