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Azpilicueta wants his Chelsea teammates to make squad selection difficult for Conte

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The vice-captain knows that every player will need to be at their best if Chelsea are to achieve great things this season.

Chelsea FC v Qarabag FK - UEFA Champions League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Chelsea's absence from European football last season, while far from a situation we’d want to see repeat anytime soon, did come with a few perks. Two of those were the extra time afforded for preparation and training, while our Premier League title rivals were busy jetting around the continent. And the relative lack of fixtures allowed head coach Antonio Conte to keep playing his strongest preferred line-ups, outside of a few injury- and suspension-enforced changes.

But now Chelsea are back in the Champions League, ready to once again be a force that needs to be reckoned with. But in order to do, Conte will need to utilize his fringe players more than last year. That paradigm shift got off to a good start with Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over Qarabag, but as vice-captain César Azpilicueta explained, that’s only the beginning of a long process.

"We need everyone in the squad, we know it's a long season - we have games every three days. That's what we need, everyone pushing together to get the job done and making it difficult for the manager [to select his team]. For a striker (Batshuayi) to get a goal was important for him."

"The feeling [in the dressing room] is that we have to work hard and go game by game. We are the current [Premier League] champions but we are still in September and have the whole season ahead. When we lost against Burnley, it wasn't finished. It isn't finished now. We have to carry on with our mentality and try to win the trophies we want."

-César Azpilicueta; source: Evening Standard

As one of the longest-serving members of Chelsea’s current squad, Azpilicueta has experienced his fair share of ups and downs. But if we build correctly on last year’s success, more of the former should follow, including perhaps another European miracle.