Before Chelsea's easier-than-it-looked win against Stoke this weekend, Sky Sports got to sit down with one of the standout players of the season: Cesar Azpilicueta. Just like every interview, much of it is fluff (did you know that Chelsea are in good position to win the league?!), but since some of the fluff is at least vaguely interesting.
Asked about the pressure for a place in the first team since the arrival of Filipe Luis in the summer, Dave came back with some of that interesting fluff:
If you ask every player in every team, they are going to say they want to play and when you do not play, obviously you are not as happy as when you do play.
This is football, everyone wants to play and fight and after, I think the team is better and this is the most important thing. When I watch a game, I am more focused on the players playing in my position because sometimes you see that I can do better and I try to learn.
Source: Sky Sports.
Yes, this is the sort of answer that you expect all players to give when asked about the internal competition for a job. But it's also an important point -- that competition is important in continuing to grow as a player. Luis arrival has made the team better through depth alone (we haven't missed many beats when Azpilicueta has been injured or suspended), and he's also made Dave himself a better player by forcing him to up his level.
That's the power of having real depth at a position, a luxury we should have across the team but ... don't. While the big signings that upgrade the first XI are obviously important, let's not forget how vital getting a strong bench is. Loïc Rémy's reminding us how important that is up top, and even without playing much Filipe Luis is contributing to the cause at the back.