Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta believes that the West London club need to mount a challenge on the Premier League title in the 2016-2017 season and that the squad understands how important that is to the fans.
The Blues endured their worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s last season, with then manager José Mourinho leading them to the worst defence of a Premier League title by any club. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ was sacked by Roman Abramovich in December and Guus Hiddink came in to replace him on an interim basis, much as he did in 2009 when Luis Felipe Scolari was sacked by the club.
In 2009 Hiddink led Chelsea to an FA Cup win, a third-place finish in the Premier League and the semi-finals of the Champions League. Last season, however, they were knocked out in the last-sixteen phase of the Champions League, were beaten by Everton in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and recorded their lowest league position since 1996.
This summer Chelsea appointed their first permanent boss since Mourinho in the form of Italian manager Antonio Conte and the former Juventus and Italian national team manager has wasted no time in mixing things up in his squad. The Blues have already spent over £65 million on the signings of the Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi and Leicester City’s defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante.
Speaking to Sky Sports News Azpilicueta made clear that the Chelsea squad know what is expected of them in the coming campaign. He said, “Our minimum target is to reach the top four but we have to challenge for trophies and we have to challenge for the title. We are coming from a very low position and we are not happy with that. We want to come back to our real position, which is fighting for the title”.
The Spaniard believes that the new additions to the squad will give the West London club an added strength heading in to the new campaign and that the owe it to the supporters to make up for last season’s terrible efforts. He said, “Last season was very hard for us and our fans also but they were behind us all season. We were suffering but now is the time to start from the beginning. We have to show that we are back and that we can challenge for a title”.
Chelsea’s team got an unofficial boost during the club’s pre-season tour of America when three local children became players for the day. The stunt was done in association with Delta Air Lines, Chelsea’s official airline partner, and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Chelsea have a pre-season game against Premier League rivals Liverpool to play tonight.