Cesar Azpilicueta: I feel proud to captain Chelsea

Ahead of the Premier League game with Manchester United, Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta feels his side has the potential to compete in multiple tournaments this season.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta feels he has evolved as a leader in the Premier League (File Photo).   -  Getty Images

Manchester United will be looking for its first Premier League home win of the season when it hosts arch-rival Chelsea on Saturday. United is 15th on the table with a game in hand, while Chelsea is eighth.

It will be a daunting task for the travelling Blues as they have not won in the Premier League at Old Trafford in seven years, and Frank Lampard's reign as manager began last season with a 4-0 hammering by United. Chelsea also lost the return fixture 2-0 at home but did win the FA Cup semifinal between the two.

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United will go into the game on the high of two successive wins – a 4-1 victory over Newcastle United last week, followed by a fine comeback 2-1 triumph away to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Chelsea, though, is winless in its last two games, having drawn with Southampton and Sevilla, the latter in the Champions League.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta talks about his time at the club ahead of Saturday’s highly-anticipated clash against United and how the club overcame an initial slump last season as well.

Excerpts:

Q: Chelsea had a rocky start last season, managing only one win from the first four matches, including a 4-0 loss to United in the opening game. How did you and the club deal with that scenario?

It was the whole pre-season -- we did not start well, and I personally did not start well. We lost 4-0 (to United), then we lost the UEFA Super Cup against Liverpool (three days later) in a dramatic way. Then we played Leicester three days after and were not at our best (1-1 draw). Then against Sheffield (2-2 draw) was one of the worst, not in terms of the result, but what I had was a really bad feeling and I didn't feel fit or mentally confident.

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You have to accept it and improve when you face these kinds of situations. It was a time when I had to accept that I was not at my best. It’s important to accept and to look at yourself and not complain about anything else like your teammates or manager, or the weather or whatever. I think from that point I became a better person, a better captain and a better player.

Q: Chelsea has a fairly young squad currently. Do you feel a sense of responsibility as captain to be there for your players when they go through something like that and encourage them to be able to accept it and talk about it?

I’m a team player and when the results are not good I take the responsibility. As captain, you always try to find the way to get the results back, individually and collectively, so you feel the extra responsibility. I’m always ready to help and to talk to my teammates when they are not having a good moment or are low on confidence. Because it’s important to have people around you that can help you in this difficult situation, people who can be critical but not harsh. And you grow when you overcome these difficulties and become even better.

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In football sometimes you can play well and lose, but when you give everything on the pitch and you target always to win, I’m sure you will be more successful. What I cannot take is accepting defeats like a loser team because we are not this kind of a club and we always want to fight for every trophy.

Q: You’ve been here since 2012 and are the longest-serving member of the squad. What has this club come to mean to you throughout this time?

When I arrived back in the day I did not have the status of a big signing but I had the confidence in myself. I had the confidence of the club – from the different managers over the years. I enjoy coming here to train, everything that goes around the club and all the work that we do with the community. I feel proud of being the captain of this club, and I always try to give my best.

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