A sense of perspective is required when passing judgement on Chelsea’s progress in 2019-20, says Cesar Azpilicueta, with it important to remember where a number of their young stars were 12 months ago.
Tammy Abraham is leading the line for the Blues this season, having spent last term taking in a loan spell in the Championship as Aston Villa secured promotion back to the Premier League.
Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori also spent 2018-19 in the second tier, with both working under current Chelsea boss Frank Lampard at Derby.
Reece James caught the eye at Wigan, while 21-year-old United States international Christian Pulisic was a summer arrival from Borussia Dortmund.
Lampard has seen the faith shown in players of promise richly rewarded, with academy graduates flourishing alongside senior stars.
Azpilicueta is among the more experienced heads at Stamford Bridge and is taking plenty of encouragement from how the Blues have fared with a squad they could not bolster during the last transfer window and one working under a relatively inexperienced coach.
The Spaniard, who is club captain in west London, told Chelsea’s official website: “We cannot forget the young players and where they were last year when they were playing a different competition and they were playing in different circumstances.
“We know that Chelsea requires the highest level in every game and that means playing every three days in the Champions League and in the Premier League, every game fighting to win and be at the top, so we have to respect that and the young players have shown great spirit and great mentality to grow day by day, together with the staff and with the coach.
“We the senior players try to help them as much as possible but they have shown great strength and it is one more step towards their development. I am very pleased with the whole team.”
Chelsea found inspiration from one of their seasoned stars in their latest outing, as Willian bagged a brace in a 2-0 derby win over Tottenham, with Azpilicueta pleased to see the Blues get back on track after a recent wobble.
He added: “We have been conceding a lot of goals, we did not win points, it is a fact that we lost many games for Chelsea and now we have come to Tottenham to play a team that were in good form and we showed great spirit, we fought and we know what it means for the fans and for all of us. That spirit made a huge difference in the game.
“It feels very good for us, for the fans, to come here and win after a run that was not the best, and to keep a clean sheet.
“It is a very good win. We prepared very well during the week, we knew that we were coming to play against a tough team but we did our job, we knew that we had to recover that fighting spirit and that it was a London derby with what that means to everybody in Chelsea.
“We did very well, with the quality we have in the team like with Willian with these two goals and every piece of football he did in the game was amazing. We fought and we played some very good football.
“It is due to the whole team doing an amazing job and I am very happy with it.”