BY PAUL LAGAN
Kurt Zouma knows the importance of getting all three points as the misfiring Blues head to Norwich City on saturday lunchtime, desperate to break their Premier League duck this season.
A defeat and a home draw has seen Frank Lampard’s charges languish in the wrong half of the league.
And while fans are respectful towards their all-time goal-scoring hero, and willing to give him time, defeat against the Canaries will start to ramp up the pressure on him.
Zouma, who returned to the Bridge after a loan spell at Stoke City and last season at Everton, has declared that Chelsea must get all three points.
He said: “We want to win every game. – but we must win.
“We want to win this one, of course. We are Chelsea. We are a big club. We wanted to win against Leicester City on Sunday.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t and Saturday has to be a win of course. Every game has to be a win.
“We wanted to win the game but listen, I’d say we were maybe a bit tired in the legs. Obviously, Leicester played well. They pressed us very, very well and we had to deal with the pressure. We wanted to do better but we couldn’t.”
The 25-year-old French central defender reckons the midweek trip to Istanbul to face Liverpool in the Super Cup was a factor in the 1-1 draw against the Foxes.
“We had a long journey after the game and played 120 minutes there so it was difficult,,” he said.
“We wanted to forget that with a win. Unfortunately, we couldn’t.
We started the game very well. We need to keep that and move from there.” So were UEFA wrong to ask clubs to play extra-time?
“I don’t know. I’m not the guy who does the… I don’t know. You should ask higher [up]. We are here to play. I am happy because I came back here to play but unfortunately we couldn’t get the win.
“You can see the quality we have. In the first 20 minutes, everybody played well.
“Then we were tired I think I would say. We need to work hard. We have another week to recover and we have to prepare for the game at Norwich.”
Zouma feels that the side are making progress under Lampard.
“Of course. We are understanding each other. There are players who came back from loan like me – and other players, the younger guys who came in. Now we are starting to understand each other. We just need to be more clinical and get the wins.
“Lampard wants us to press very high and keep the intensity high.
Unfortunately we didn’t do it on Sunday but in the previous game, we did it well I think.
“We just need to score more goals. The work rate has to be high all the time for 90 minutes. That’s what we are trying to do and that’s what we have to do next week to win.”
Everton would have liked to have taken Zouma on a permanent deal.
Antonio Rudiger is back from injury and played the full 90 minutes in a 3-0 win in a U23 game against Liverpool on Monday.
So does Zouma see his future at SW6? “I am here,” he said. “Everything is done now. I have to do my job here and I am happy to be here. I just want to work hard and play. That’s what I’m trying to do and the most important thing is the team. We need to start winning games.
“I’m not surprised I’m playing because that’s what I wanted.
“I came here and wanted to play. I am in a big club and everyone here wants to play.
“The competition is very hard and you can see in the squad, there are a lot of talented players so when you train, you have to do it right. That’s what I am trying to do and that’s what I am working hard for.
“You always have to look over your shoulder. The squad is very talented and the competition can only make us better.
“On Sunday I played, tomorrow maybe not but I want to play every game. Everyone that’s on the pitch wants to stay on the pitch and we have to work hard for that.”
Zouma is reflective on his Chelsea career so far but focused on the future.
“It has been a very, very long journey. I don’t want to talk about that now because that is the past but I fought very hard.
“People don’t know, people don’t see but I was in the shadow, working hard to get back because I had a very, very bad injury. I was off for one year but people forget that and don’t see.
“But me, I always believed in myself. My family was always there behind me, supporting me and now I am back here, I am very happy to play here. I just want to keep going.”
There is a constant criticism of players on social media and Zouma is aware that any mistake on the pitch is instantly highlighted.
“Myself, I knew I made mistakes in the first game [at Old Trafford] but it won’t be perfect every game.
“You have to learn from games. I am still learning. I still have a lot of things to learn. And after a game like this, you just have to refocus.
“I keep the concentration high and then I think I did right after that by keeping myself ready and prepared.
“We don’t get the wins but me, I give it my all on the pitch. That’s what I’m here for.”