Ramires took time from recovering from the midweek visit by West Ham to sit down with the official Chelsea website and look ahead to Monday’s game at Manchester City, as well as outlining his determination to help secure one trophy which, until now, has eluded him.
For the majority of our players, the likelihood of looking back on Wednesday’s goalless draw with any fondness is pretty slim. The Blues dropped two important points in a game we would have expected to win prior to kick-off, and were left with little to show for a performance in which we registered 39 attempts on the Hammers’ goal.
Now the dust has settled, Ramires reflects on a London derby which was also his 100th Premier League start, having made his first for Chelsea in a 3-1 win at Upton Park in September 2010.
For a player who, during his time at the club thus far, has played a pivotal role in successful Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League campaigns, the 100 starts is not a standout achievement as a Chelsea player, but it is still a good moment to take stock
‘I enjoy every opportunity I get to play,’ Ramires tells chelseafc.com.
‘To play that many games is a great achievement and very important, because it’s something many players would like to do. This club feels like home to me and I just want to carry on doing well, play as much as I can and try to help us win trophies.’
After signing for the club from Benfica early in the 2010/11 camapign, Ramires quickly adjusted to the physical demands of the English game, slotting into a three-man midfield alongside Frank Lampard, Michael Essien or John Mikel Obi, filling the hole left by Michael Ballack’s departure.
His energy and athleticism in the middle of the park ensured he became a regular in the side fairly quickly, and midway through the season supporters began to see the Brazilian produce high levels of consistency in his play.
His first goal for the club came when he put the seal on a 4-0 win away at Bolton, a memory which instantly brings a smile to his face.
‘I remember that goal very well,’ he recalls. ‘Every other player was looking forward to me scoring because I’d been playing with them for a long time without scoring. At that moment, when I scored, I remember Didier Drogba hugged me and threw me on the floor and then all the other players arrived and jumped on top of me.
‘I remember that goal as if it was yesterday, not just because it was my first goal for the club, but also for the celebrations that followed.’
Ramires src=”/javaImages/a5/b8/0,,10268~12564645,00.jpg” width=640 height=445>
His time as a Chelsea player has seen the 26-year-old involved in a host of memorable matches, both domestically and in Europe. When asked to pick out his favourite Premier League memory, however, he opts for a game against our next opponents.
‘I remember the game against Arsenal at home last season because we were winning 2-0 at half-time and playing very well, but there have been so many,’ he says.
‘The other game which stands out was at home to Manchester City in my first season. I won the prize for the club’s Goal of the Season in that game. I took a pass from Michael Essien and managed to dribble past two defenders and score. We won the game 2-0 and I remember it well because of that goal.’
During the current campaign, Ramires has played 2,683 minutes, more than any other player in the squad apart from Petr Cech.
While his versatility ensures he can play on the right-hand side of the supportive attacking trio, as well as at right-back, as he did midway through the second half against West Ham, Jose Mourinho’s favoured position for the Brazilian is as one of the two deep-lying midfielders.
Having played alongside Frank Lampard, John Mikel Obi and David Luiz at various times, Ramires explains the demands placed upon each player dependant on the pairing.
‘It depends on who I’m playing alongside but we always need to adapt and have different functions during the game,’ he says.
‘For example, when I’m playing with Obi I stay forward, and it’s similar with David because he is a natural defender. When I play with Lampard, though, we have to find a way where, if one of us goes forward the other has to stay back and vice versa.
‘With the players who are fixed defensively I have more freedom but with Frank we have to adapt well with each other.
‘I think the manager trusts me, I always try to be the best on the field and I do everything to meet his expectations.’
The draw against Sam Allardyce’s side, as well as bringing an end to our seven-game winning streak, now means Monday’s trip to in-form Manchester City takes on even greater significance, with the Blues looking to bridge the three-point gap which now exists between the two sides.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are yet to drop a point in front of their own supporters, but we can take heart from our 2-1 win in the corresponding fixture back in October.
‘We all know that it’s going to be a difficult game but we beat them at home, even if that was also a tough match,’ says Ramires.
‘We hope we can win on Monday because if we want to win the title it will be very important. Despite the fact it will be difficult, a victory there would be very sweet and we are going to give our very best.’
Key to success on Monday night will be those Chelsea players selected by Mourinho winning their individual battles and, for Ramires, that means getting to grips with Yaya Toure and a player he knows well, compatriot Fernandinho.
‘He’s a great player; I’ve played with him in the Brazilian team and also against him when he was playing for Shakhtar,’ he says. ‘It’s difficult to say that you know an opponent because the way they play can be very different from what you are used to so you have to adapt and prepare, not only for him, but the whole team.
‘We also have to be careful about the likes of Yaya and [David] Silva because they are capable of making a big difference.’
Ramires src=”/javaImages/a4/b8/0,,10268~12564644,00.jpg” width=640 height=442>
With the Champions League returning at the end of this month, and our quests for success in both the Premier League and FA Cup still alive, we are approaching a crucial period in the campaign.
The squad has been strengthened during the January window with the additions of Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, and Ramires insists both new signings will have a big part to play.
‘It’s always good to have new players who come in with a good mind and want to help us,’ he explains. ‘Matic had already been here before, he left for Benfica and now he’s back, plus we have Salah who’s come in as well and we know he’s a good player.
‘I think they are both very skilful and they are here to try to help us win titles. Even though they’ve arrived midway through the season they can still be very important.’
Ramires can look back on his time at Stamford Bridge to date with plenty of satisfaction, particularly when taking into account his ever-expanding medal collection.
One trophy, however, still eludes the likeable Brazilian, and there is no doubt a Premier League triumph this season really would be an achievement to treasure.
‘When I arrived at the club everybody was saying the same about the Champions League; we were going close every year without winning it, but eventually we managed to win it,’ he recalls.
‘It’s more or less the same with the Premier League, we all dream of winning it and we have to try our very best to do so. If we were able to do that it would be very big moment in my career.’