Jamie Redknapp believes that full back turned centre-back Cesar Azpilicueta is a player who hasn’t received full recognition for his contribution to Chelsea‘s spectacular form.
Azpilicueta has played every minute of league football for Chelsea this term and has been immensely solid while showcasing his intelligence in understanding where the danger is and his tenacity to go and cover for Victor Moses when the wing-back gets forward.
Redknapp insists that Azpilicueta is just as significant to Chelsea’s 3-4-3 system, in which he plays as the right-sided centre-back, as those who receive most of the individual praise, as he is adept at carrying out both sides of the game.
“I’m all for defenders playing out from the back but you have to be able to defend, too,” the former Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder wrote for the Daily Mail.
“Cesar Azpilicueta is the best of both worlds. Having played as a right back he is excellent going forwards – his ball for Diego Costa’s goal at Crystal Palace was superb – but I don’t think there is anyone better than him in one on one situations.
“He looks like the sort of man who trains like he is on trial and has been sensational this season. Given the way Chelsea play, he is as important to Antonio Conte as Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante. Chelsea will be without the suspended Costa and Kante on Boxing Day against Bournemouth – but I was so impressed with how they defended against Palace that even without these key players I’m backing them to extend their winning run.”
Azpilicueta has projected himself as a model professional since Antonio Conte’s arrival and after being exposed badly while at right-back against Arsenal, much like the rest of Chelsea’s back four in that 3-0 defeat, has been able to utilise his speed and agility to compensate for his partners’ limitations with regard to mobility.
The Spaniard’s appetite for the game is clear for all to see and the energy that he used to bring as a full back has not waned since he was moved into the middle.
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