Chelsea star reveals where Blues have improved from last season

Osvaldo Azpilicueta Lamela

Cesar Azpilicueta believes an improved mental strength has been just as important as new signings for Chelsea this season.

The Spanish international full-back has been one of the key members of the squad who sit atop the Premier League table after eleven games.

Having been recalled to the Blues’ starting XI for their game at Liverpool on Saturday - after serving a three-game suspension for the red card picked up in the victory over Crystal Palace - Azpilicueta put in another top class performance, and he played a key part in Diego Costa’s winning goal - with the striker getting on the end of his cross into the box.

Having been labelled as the best defender in the Premier League by Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, the 25-year-old looks set to repay the faith shown in him by head coach Jose Mourinho - who selected him as first-choice left-back despite the presence of Ashley Cole last season, and new signing Filipe Luis this term.

One of Azpilicueta’s best traits is his ability to never be phased by the game being played, regardless of the situation the Blues are placed in, and the Spaniard believes that the entire Chelsea squad have the same mental toughness that he shows - something that they were lacking last season.

Speaking to the Standard, Azpilicueta suggested that being ‘stronger mentally’ has been just as valuable in Chelsea’s surge for the Premier League title as all the new signings they made over the summer.

He said: “I think we are stronger mentally now. The players who came have given us another dimension as well.

“I think you saw that. When the team was losing we were still really strong mentally.

“The whole squad know we have to fight together. Some players have more talent, some score goals, and sometimes we have to defend for them - but the main thing is we do it all as a team.”

Chelsea have had a number of games this season in which they have been tested by the opposition, before recovering to claim a result. The victory over Liverpool on Saturday came despite going behind, whilst they clinched a tough-fought draw with Maribor in their Champions League group after a period of intense pressure by the Slovenian champions. In recent seasons, the Blues may have fallen to defeat when faced with such situations, but they appear to have overcome any weaknesses in their squad - likely leading them to Premier League glory.

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