The Blues face a major test tomorrow when we take on an in-form Arsenal at the Emirates, and Cesar Azpilicueta has been speaking about two of the players we will need to keep a close eye on if we are to maintain our unbeaten start to the league campaign.
The Spanish right-back made his Chelsea debut during the 6-0 Capital One Cup win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in midweek, but prior to signing for Chelsea, he spent two seasons in France with Marseille, where he witnessed at close quarters the quality of Olivier Giroud, while Santi Cazorla is another player he knows very well from his time in Spain.
‘I played for two seasons against Giroud,’ Azpilicueta tells the official Chelsea website. ‘Last year for Montpellier he finished as top scorer in Ligue 1 and they won the title.
‘He is a very attack-minded player, the type of striker who is always in and around the penalty area waiting for an opportunity to score.
‘He is very good playing with his back to goal, and when he does this he is able to bring his team-mates, especially the wide players, into the game, which is a great strength.’
Having failed to find the target over the course of the first month of the season, Giroud netted his first Arsenal goal – as well as missing a penalty – in their 6-1 Capital One Cup win over Coventry on Wednesday.
Azpilicueta wasn’t surprised to see the French striker finally break his duck, but remains hopeful that the goal doesn’t herald the beginning of a profitable run for the 25-year-old, starting tomorrow in north London.
‘It’s important for a striker to score goals, and now he’s scored his first goal he will have more confidence.
‘Any time a player goes to another country or league, it’s completely normal to have a time of adaptation and adjust to your new team.
‘I’m sure the goal will give him confidence but hopefully he won’t score against us.’
If there is one particular player Roberto Di Matteo’s side will need to stop from having a big influence on proceedings, on current form it would probably be Cazorla.
The creative midfielder, who arrived from Malaga in August, has adjusted to the demands of English football effortlessly, and he is a player Azpilicueta has been aware of for some time.
‘I’ve known Santi for many years, he started out at Villarreal, he’s a fantastic player with a great touch who can also score goals,’ says the Chelsea right-back. ‘He’s a Spain international, and I think he fits in very well at Arsenal because of the way they like to play.
‘Santi is a player who has played many games in the Spanish league and for the national team. In Spain he played regularly on the left wing, whereas since he’s moved to England he’s playing in more of a central role, but he has the quality to play in different positions.’
Azpilicueta was an unused substitute during our first London derby of the campaign, the 0-0 draw at Queens Park Rangers a couple of weeks ago, and he believes tomorrow’s clash could be another day for cool heads.
‘It’s important to win every game,’ he says. ‘But when you play a London derby, and there are lots of them, it’s a special atmosphere, we need to stay focused and try to win the match.’