Ahead of tomorrow’s game at Aston Villa, the first of two in succession on the road, Pedro discusses Chelsea impressive away form in the league and finishing the season strongly.
Having arrived from Barcelona in August following an 11-year spell at the Camp Nou, Pedro enjoyed a debut to remember for the Blues, scoring and shining in a 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion, our first victory of the season.
Since that afternoon in the Midlands there have been highs and lows, both for the player himself and the team as a whole. Guus Hiddink‘s side, however, are unbeaten since December in the Premier League, and while it’s still mathematically possible for us to secure European football, Pedro says there is plenty to play for, starting tomorrow at Villa Park.
‘It will be a question of working game by game and step by step,’ he tells the official Chelsea website, when asked what the team hope to achieve between now and the end of the season.
‘Our main objective is to try to gain as many points as possible. We have eight games left and they are all going to be very intense, very difficult, because there is a lot at stake for all the teams. We want to try to finish as high up the table as possible because that’s what this club deserves.’
Three of our next four games will be played away from home, with trips to Swansea and Bournemouth coming either side of Manchester City’s visit to the capital, and on the road our form has been particularly solid, with Guus Hiddink‘s side picking up 13 points from a possible 15 in our five most recent Premier League away matches.
There is little doubt quick, direct and dynamic players such as Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard, who will miss tomorrow’s game through injury, provide a real threat on the break, which can prove very useful when playing away as the onus is often on the home side to offer more of an attacking threat, a sentiment the Spanish winger is in full agreement with.
‘That will have a lot to do with it because that’s our main weapon as a team, we are quick and there is a lot of interchanging,’ he explains. ‘It’s important away but also at home as well, that’s one of the ways in which we try to score our goals.
‘It’s difficult to say why we have done so well away but there are different circumstances in every game. I don’t know why it is but the important thing now is for us to try to win our remaining games.’
Arguably Pedro‘s best performance in a Chelsea shirt to date was February’s 5-1 victory over Newcastle United, when he scored two well-taken goals and caused the visitors’ defence no end of problems all evening.
The following week he again caught the eye in another 5-1 win, this time against Manchester City in the FA Cup, but he was forced out of the action early on with an injury away at Southampton in our next fixture, leaving him sidelined for a fortnight and disrupting his positive momentum.
‘It was very frustrating because the injury came when I was feeling my best, when I was at the top of my game,’ he recalls.
‘I’ve picked up a number of little injuries which have set me back and now I want to recover properly and try to finish the season in the best form possible.’
Away from the field of play, Pedro is extremely content. His family have settled well, which is of huge importance to any player when they move clubs, and he has enjoyed exploring London when the opportunity arises.
‘We are delighted to be here and we are really enjoying it,’ he says. ‘We are lucky to be living in such a beautiful city with such famous places. We have been to see Buckingham Palace and the Westminster area and I really like going to Camden. My family are very happy to be here.’
Pedro was an unused substitute against the Italians last Thursday but started, and played the full 90 minutes, in Sunday’s stalemate against Romania.
Having been part of the Spain squad which won the Euros four years ago, as well as the World Cup in 2010, he knows exactly what’s required when it comes to succeeding at major international tournaments, and he is happy with the way Spain’s plans are progressing ahead of the finals in France.
‘They were two very difficult matches, against Romania and Italy, we drew both games but they were useful in terms of training and preparing for the European Championships,’ Pedro tells the official Chelsea website.
‘It’s a very strong group we’re in at the Euros, with Czech Republic, Croatia and Turkey, and it will be very difficult, but these last two games have helped us in terms of our preparations.
‘I felt comfortable and happy with my performance against Romania. I’m gradually gaining more confidence in myself and now what I hope to do is perform well for the remainder of the season for Chelsea.’
If all four of our Spanish internationals – Pedro, Cesc Fabregas, Cesar Azpilicueta and Diego Costa – are named in Vicente del Bosque’s squad which sets off for France there will be a healthy Chelsea presence as Spain bid to become the only team in history to win three consecutive Euros’.
Pedro is adamant that performing alongside club team-mates at international level is hugely beneficial due to the relationships which have already been formed and an in-depth understanding of each other’s traits.
‘Yes, it definitely helps because with those players there is a complicity which you don’t have with others,’ he explains.
‘It helps on and off the pitch, it makes the whole experience easier and more interesting when you have club team-mates with you.’
As the end of his first season in English football draws nearer Pedro, who until his move to Stamford Bridge had only ever played in Spain, is well placed to assess the differences between La Liga and the Premier League in terms of style.
‘They are very different,’ he says. ‘Spanish football is slower, more static, while in England it’s more dynamic and I think that makes for a more exciting game, both for the players and supporters.
‘I’ve been really happy to be here and I’ve enjoyed it. Unfortunately, for us the season hasn’t been as good as we would have wanted, but we are concentrating on finishing strongly and preparing for next season.’
The Spanish nation will come to a virtual standstill this evening as Barcelona, Pedro‘s former club, take on their fierce rivals Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.
With the Blues kicking off the Premier League’s weekend action at Villa Park, Pedro will probably be able to see the game on the team’s return to London, but having played in the fixture on numerous occasions, how does it feel to now be watching as a supporter, powerless to affect the outcome?
‘It feels really weird because I played for Barcelona for such a long time, but it’s something you have to get used to, you have to move on,’ he says.
‘Now, I see the game in a different way; when you watch on TV it’s very intense but it’s such an enjoyable game to watch, a huge occasion.’
- Photo: Darren Walsh /Chelsea FC
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