Azpilicueta has showered praise on Ruben Loftus-Cheek for his brilliant performance and also register his name on the scoring sheet in the FA Cup semi-final game against Crystal Palace on Sunday
Having seen the work Loftus-Cheek has put into reaching his current level of performance, Azpilicueta is in no doubt he fully earned his starring role in our 2-0 victory over at Wembley.
‘You can see the improvement he has made and that he has played in different positions and he has always delivered, always been open and always been trying his best for the team as well,’ said the Blues captain. ‘It’s very important and he’s shown that in the last few games.
‘In the last couple of years maybe he lacked this consistency in playing. He had a couple of injuries, every time he was at his best moment when he had an injury.
‘So he has been working a lot on his fitness, on the way he recovers and prepares for games, and I think we are seeing the result. He’s still only 26 and I’ve know Ruben since he was 17 years old, and I’m very happy because he’s so strong physically now.
‘He scored a nice goal on Sunday and I’m so happy because he deserves all the performances that he’s been doing.’
Loftus-Cheek’s well-taken goal against Palace helped us book our place in this season’s FA Cup final, where we will face Liverpool in a rematch of February’s Carabao Cup final defeat, providing an opportunity to set the record straight and lift a trophy at Wembley.
‘Reaching the final is a big achievement, of course, but it’s not finished. We won this time to be back here and try our best to get the cup.
‘Of course when we lost the final in the Carabao Cup we were disappointed. Now we have another opportunity in the FA Cup. We’ll do everything, we know that every game is very tough, but I have a lot of confidence in this group and we’ll try our best to get the trophy in our hands.’
It will be our fourth game against Liverpool during the current campaign, having drawn home and away against them in the Premier League, and losing that Carabao Cup final on penalties after 120 minutes ended goalless.
Azpilicueta is expecting another tight contest between the two teams and feels those previous games show we can match the Reds on the day, but is also looking ahead to the future and our need to take another step towards matching them and Manchester City over the course of a whole season to challenge for the league title.
‘We closed the gap on them in the Premier League but not enough to be challenging for the trophy right now in the Premier League. We arrived in the Carabao Cup final, we lost on penalties, in the two games in the Premier League we drew both.
‘In a final it’s different, in one game, but we have to show the consistency also in the Premier League to be able to compete against Man City and Liverpool because they have shown a great consistency in winning back-to-back games.
‘That’s what we are looking for every time, closing the gap, improving our team, because we have a great group and everybody’s pushing hard.’