Jamie Redknapp: This unsung Chelsea star is as important as Eden Hazard

Jamie Redknapp talks up the importance of Cesar Azpilicueta to Chelsea this season

Jamie Redknapp has hailed Cesar Azpilicueta as Chelsea’s unsung hero this season.

The Spanish defender has been getting used a new role as a wing-back in Chelsea’s new 3-4-3 formation under new manager Antonio Conte this term.

Azpilicueta has been a regular fixture in the Chelsea team this season to help Conte’s men top the Premier League table heading into the hectic festive period.

And Redknapp feels that the Spaniard has been one of the Blues’ most important players and says he is as vital as the likes of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard to Conte’s Chelsea team.

Writing in his column for The Daily Mail, Redknapp said: “I’m all for defenders playing out from the back but you have to be able to defend, too.

“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.”

Chelsea were 1-0 winners over Crystal Palace on Saturday as Costa’s goal earned them their 11th victory on the spin in the top flight.

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The Blues look like they will take some stopping in the race for the title this season as they prepare to host Bournemouth on Boxing Day.

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