Cesar Azpilicueta urged Chelsea to build on their improved performance in the EFL Cup final with more consistent displays.
Although Maurizio Sarri’s side lost 4-3 on penalties to Manchester City after a goalless draw at Wembley on Sunday, there were plenty of positives for the Blues.
A fortnight ago they were thrashed 6-0 away by City in the Premier League, but Pep Guardiola’s men could not find a way past Azpilicueta and his defence.
Chelsea remain in the hunt for Champions League qualification despite a series of underwhelming results and performances in the top flight, while they are also in the Europa League last 16.
And captain Azpilicueta wants Chelsea to match the levels they produced against City as they regroup for the rest of the season.
“We knew that we had to fight very hard against a very strong team, we had chances to win the trophy and lost on penalties,” he told Sky Sports.
“We are disappointed as we were close to being the champions but it was not the case. We have to recover now.
“First of all obviously we did a very good effort everyone involved we ran a lot and fought a lot. We lacked a bit with the ball, but we had good chances as well. Now it’s time to recover.
“We are disappointed as our fans were amazing and it’s been a long way until today to get to the final. We deserve to be here, but we were not able to win the cup on the penalties.
“We are Chelsea, we are used to competing and fighting for trophies, but at the same time it’s frustrating as we don’t show our level and this inconsistency leaves us where we are in the Premier League.
“We have to be focused and play in the Europa League, also to try to qualify for the Champions League, so hopefully we are ready to fight for it.”
It was a tight game. @ChelseaFC
is one of the toughest teams I’ve ever faced. We are happy to have won a trophy back-to-back for the first time
Fue un partido tenso. Este Chelsea es uno de los equipos más duros a los que me he enfrentado. Estamos felices de revalidar el título pic.twitter.com/tAyq3Rgtjf
— PepTeam (@PepTeam) February 24, 2019
Chelsea’s loss was exacerbated by Kepa Arrizabalaga appearing to defy Sarri’s decision to substitute him during extra time.
Kepa needed treatment twice and Willy Caballero was ready to replace him ahead of the shoot-out, with Sarri seemingly furious on the sidelines as the goalkeeper refused to come off.
The Chelsea head coach later claimed it was a “misunderstanding” with the goalkeeper, who had cramp instead of an injury, with Azpilicueta insisting he was unaware of the bizarre scenes.
“Honestly, I don’t know because I was on the other side of the pitch,” he said. “So I can’t comment.”
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