The Spanish full-back has enjoyed a wonderful season as one of the key men in the starting XI, retaining his left-back position despite his natural ability on the right. He has 28 appearances in all competitions to his name, and, despite the arrival of Filipe Luis in the summer, Azpilicueta has never looked like losing his place. Luis has made 21 appearances, but he has been utilised much more in the domestic cups, and he has only started five Premier League games.
Considering how vital it is for a top team to have a high quality backup XI, Luis has been unlucky that he is playing with Chelsea in a season that has seen the Blues avoid any real injury problems. Azpilicueta has missed a handful of games through suspension, but he has never been out of action for a real length of time, and that has prevented Luis - who won La Liga and reached the Champions League Final last season - from usurping his role in the side.
As annoyed as Luis must be that he is not a key starter for the Premier League leaders, Chelsea fans are delighted that they have a title winning left-back as second choice, and their strength in depth will prove key as the season progresses. With League Cup, Champions League and Premier League success on the cards, Luis will be given many more opportunities as the season progresses, and he will be determined to prove himself in those games.
This is the best thing about the competition in the Chelsea squad, according to Azpilicueta, who has told the official Blues website that every player takes their game to another level to prove they should be first-choice.
“Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs and there is always going to be competition for places,” the Spanish international said. “Last year I was competing with Ashley Cole, who was a top English defender with over 100 caps for the national team, so it was a big challenge for me and I learnt a lot.
“This season, with Filipe Luis, it’s the same. He’s a top full-back and a Brazilian international. I like the competition because it brings you to another level, and it’s down to each player to impress the manager and make it difficult for him.”