Loftus-Cheek admits Chelsea must learn to break teams down

By Matt McGeehan, Press Association Sport
PA Ready Sport

Ruben Loftus-Cheek accepts Chelsea will have to get used to playing stubborn opponents and must adapt.

The Blues drew 0-0 with Southampton on Wednesday night, conceding two points in the race for the Premier League’s top four as Maurizio Sarri’s men seek a Champions League return.

“Teams are coming here and sitting back and it’s difficult to break them down, because it’s so tight,” Loftus-Cheek told Chelsea TV.

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“We need to get on the training pitch and work on trying to get balls in behind and work on playing against a deep back four.

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek says Chelsea need to be more incisive in attack (Adam Davy/PA)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek says Chelsea need to be more incisive in attack (Adam Davy/PA)

“We need those clever movements in behind, even though they are deep. One of those diagonal balls over the top, like you see Barcelona do a lot.

“We need to work on that. It’s about having patience as well, because it’s so frustrating at times. You can’t get that space to open them up.

“I think we need to get used to it, because we’re playing well at times, so teams are going to come here and do that – and away as well.”

Chelsea’s best chance came following the introduction of Cesc Fabregas for his 500th appearance in English football.

The former Arsenal and Barcelona playmaker thought he had provided an assist for an Alvaro Morata goal, only for the strike to be rule out for offside.

Afterwards Fabregas applauded Stamford Bridge. His contract expires in the summer and he has been linked with a move to Monaco and AC Milan, possibly as early as this month.

The 31-year-old, who joined Chelsea in June 2014, suggested he would feature in Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie with Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge.

He wrote on Twitter: “500 games in English football, the best and most competitive football in the world, what a ride it has been!

“A proper dream come true to reach these numbers. Another proud moment in my career. I will see you all at the Bridge on Saturday.”

Chelsea’s Willian went off injured against Southampton, adding to Maurizio Sarri’s concerns (Adam Davy/PA)
Chelsea’s Willian went off injured against Southampton, adding to Maurizio Sarri’s concerns (Adam Davy/PA)

Willian may miss the Forest match after being withdrawn as a precaution, with Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi (both hamstring) already out.

Striker Olivier Giroud (ankle) is expected to return to training in 10 days time, but Sarri hinted at his frustration with Morata after the Saints stalemate.

Morata and Eden Hazard were denied by Saints’ 22-year-old goalkeeper Angus Gunn, who was making his debut and is set to keep his place against Derby in the cup this weekend after Saints’ first league clean sheet in 11 games.

Angus Gunn performed well for Southampton on his Premier League debut (Peter Byrne/PA)
Angus Gunn performed well for Southampton on his Premier League debut (Peter Byrne/PA)

“I’m delighted,” Gunn said on saintsfc.com.

“Just to make my debut was a dream, and to get a clean sheet was a massive bonus – especially for the team, because we needed it.

“In the last few games we’ve struggled a little bit – performances have been good but we haven’t quite got over the line, so to take this into the cup on Saturday and then into the league would be good.

“Hopefully I can keep my head down, keep improving, hopefully get more chances and help the team.

“No-one wants to be in the position that we are, but I’m pretty sure we’ll get out of it as a team.”

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