Azpilicueta: We need fear factor
Cesar Azpilicueta admits teams will not fear playing Chelsea if their inconsistent form continues.
- Related Content
28. Cesar Azpilicueta
Just three days after struggling to an FA Cup stalemate at Brentford, Chelsea disappointed their ailing support again when they threw away a two-goal lead in the final minutes at Reading to record another 2-2 draw.
The Blues are now some 13 points adrift of Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United and sit just five ahead of fifth-placed Everton with 14 games of the season left.
Rafael Benitez's reign has been dogged by inconsistency. The Blues put on a superb display to beat Arsenal 11 days ago, but looked completely out of sorts against npower League One Brentford and the way in which they conceded twice in eight minutes at the Madejski Stadium last night will have alarmed even the most optimistic of fans.
Azpilicueta, who moved to Chelsea from Marseille last summer, now wants the club to bring back the fear factor that used to come with facing Chelsea by going on a winning streak that would also cement their place in the top three.
"Teams are scared when you win games in a row. It's true when you win (regularly) you get more respect," the Chelsea right-back said.
"I don't think that it's nerves. We have a lot of players with experience who have played a lot of important games and who have been in this situation a lot of times.
"I think the problem is with our confidence. When the team are better, it's easier to have the mind clear and to manage the situation better. These are the little things that can lead to losing two points."
Juan Mata converted a clever chip from Fernando Torres to put Chelsea in front and Frank Lampard made it 2-0 with a second-half header last night.
The Blues were coasting to victory until super sub Adam Le Fondre beat Ross Turnbull with three minutes to go and then again in the last minute of stoppage time to snatch a point for the Royals.
Lampard was at a loss to explain how his team managed to draw a game they dominated for so long.
He told Chelsea TV: "I am really upset. I don't think they had a shot on target until the goal. I don't know what to say..."
The jeering and booing that Benitez encountered during his first game in charge over two months ago continues to dog the Blues' interim manager.
Fans regularly called for the former Liverpool boss' head last night, even when they were 2-0 up.
Chelsea defender Ryan Bertrand insists the players must take a portion of the blame too.
He said: "When it does go wrong, the manager in any club always gets the blame. But we're the ones on the pitch trying to get the performances and sometimes it doesn't go our way."
Mata, who faces a fitness test on an ankle injury today, added: "There are no excuses. I don't know (if last night's collapse was down to a lack of belief) but it can't happen again.
"This match was very important because we had an opportunity to be closer to Manchester City and make the gap even bigger to the teams in fourth, fifth and sixth place but we didn't manage the game the way we should have."