Cesar Azpilicueta says it was important for defensive morale to have earned a clean sheet against Manchester City on Sunday.

The Spaniard was part of our backline that earned its first shutout in 11 attempts at the weekend, and although we could claim only a point from the encounter, Azpilicueta believes we can begin to look forward under Rafael Benitez after a difficult few days.

‘It’s important to keep clean sheets. As a minimum you have one point, and offensively we have good players so we will have good chances but the first thing is to defend together, play well defensively and after to do a good job offensively,’ the 23-year-old told Chelsea TV.

‘The problem we had before was that we conceded a lot of goals, a lot of chances, so this is the first thing to resolve and now to adapt Rafa’s methods and stay together, and be focused in our work.

‘He has a different method to work so we have worked a lot in the last days with him, defensively, to know how he wants to play. It’s important that we kept a clean sheet and stayed together, played as a team.

‘It’s the most important job for a defender when you play against City. We needed to keep concentrated. They arrive a lot of times next to the box so you can’t make a mistake.’

We next entertain Fulham at Stamford Bridge tomorrow evening, looking for a first league victory since October 20, and Azpilicueta is hoping for support from the stands.

‘It’s true that when the fans are with us it is easier for us,’ he said. ‘But the supporters have opinions and say what they think. The players need to keep focused on the game so you listen to the fans but we must be ready for the important game. After the defeat in Turin it was difficult but the team was really organised.’

Finally on a personal level, the former Marseille man is now finding his rhythm in England after a patient start to life in London.

‘In terms of fitness I feel very good. I played 90 minutes, in the last game 60, so I am very happy to continue to play and feel very good,’ he said. ‘Every player is important in this chain of difficult games so we need to be focused and to work.’


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