Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has backed Chelsea’s youngsters to thrive this season despite a 4-0 thrashing at Manchester United .
New Blues boss Frank Lampard opted to hand Mason Mount his first senior start for the club as Tammy Abraham led the line for only the third time, but a promising start ended with Chelsea’s worst opening-day defeat in their 114-year history.
Lampard is keen to offset Chelsea’s Fifa transfer ban by promoting several youngsters, with Fikayo Tomori – who spent last season on loan at Derby under the 41-year-old alongside Mount – named on the bench and Reece James set for a significant role this term.
Former Blues manager Jose Mourinho, working for Sky Sports as a pundit, claimed Mount, Abraham and Andreas Christensen were not strong enough for “a match of this dimension”, but Azpilicueta believes there is much more to come, the Evening Standard report.
“We trust in them,” he said. “We know that we have a fantastic academy and they have had fantastic experience on loan. If they are here it is because they deserve to be. They are fighting in every training session.
“All the boys, they train to play for the Chelsea first team since they were young and now we have a massive opportunity to create a fantastic group, to learn from every game. Yesterday, obviously everyone would like to start in a better way, but we have to face the reality and become stronger from it.”
Chelsea created several chances, with both Abraham and Emerson hitting the woodwork in the first half, but Marcus Rashford put United ahead after 18 minutes from the penalty spot after Kurt Zouma’s clumsy challenge before two goals in 95 seconds just after the hour mark settled the contest.
Anthony Martial turned home Andreas Pereira’s cross before Rashford collected Paul Pogba’s excellent through ball to finish past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
United substitute Daniel James added a late fourth to condemn Lampard to the biggest defeat suffered by a Chelsea manager on debut since Danny Blanchflower lost to Middlesbrough 7-2 in 1978.
The Blues must move on quickly, though. They face Liverpool in Wednesday’s Uefa Super Cup, pitching last season’s Champions League winners against the Europa League holders.
“We know that Chelsea always fight for everything,” said Azpilicueta.
“When you don’t win, the questions around get more and more, but we have to cope with it.
“We have to learn from the game. We know that we can improve. We have to face it, take the responsibility and move forward.
“We have a trophy to fight for against a good team and we have to be ready for it.”
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