'Most games in Europe!' - Azpilicueta explains why Chelsea haven't challenged Man City & Liverpool in Premier League title race

Cesar Azpilicueta Chelsea 2021-22Getty Images

Cesar Azpilicueta believes that Chelsea's 54 matches in all competitions help explain why the club have been unable to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title this season.

The Blues have played more matches than any of their European counterparts after participation in the Club World Cup, alongside their runs to two domestic cup finals. 

And Azpilicueta believes that gruelling run, along with a host of injuries and Covid cases in the winter, has meant the club has been unable to keep up with Liverpool and Manchester City in the league. 

What has Azpilicueta said about Chelsea's title challenge?

"The reality from last season is that we closed the gap from them (Liverpool and Man City) in the Premier League, but not enough to be challenging for the title," Azpilicueta said at Wembley Stadium after his side's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. 

"We arrived in the Carabao Cup final and lost on penalties. In the two games in the Premier League [against Liverpool] we drew both. 

"In a final, it is different – one game. We have to show the consistency to be able to compete against Man City and Liverpool [in the league] because they have shown great consistency winning back-to-back games and keeping a great level of consistency. 

"That is what we are looking for. To keep on closing the gap and improving our team. We have a great group. Everybody is pushing hard. We have great competition. 

"We had to deal with injuries and the Covid situation. We never had a game postponed. We are the team with the most games in Europe. Everything is a consequence of our success. 

"We have been in the Carabao Cup final, in the FA Cup final, quarter-final of the Champions League, Club World Cup and Super Cup. That’s part of the consequences of ourselves, that we always push for everything. 

"We never choose an easy competition. We go for every competition until the end and we will keep doing the same."

What did Azpilicueta say about Ruben Loftus-Cheek?

Azpilicueta added on Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who scored the opener in the FA Cup semi-final and was one of the Blues' better players on the day: "He has always been open and trying his best for the team.

"He is very important. It is true that in the last couple of years maybe he lacked this consistency of playing. 

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"He had a couple of injuries and maybe when he wasn’t at the best moment he had an injury. I think he has been working a lot on his fitness, the way he recovers and prepares for games. We are seeing the result. 

"He is still 26 and I’ve known Ruben since he was 17 here. I am very happy because he is so strong physically. He scored a nice goal and I am very happy because he deserves all the performances he’s doing."

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