Pundit sends message to Chelsea fans about match-winner defender
Garth Crooks hails Cesar Azpilicueta's attacking display in Chelsea's 4-0 win at Stoke City
Garth Crooks has spoken of his amazement at Cesar Azpilicueta’s ability to produce match-winning passes for Chelsea.
The Spain international was originally signed as a full-back for the defending Premier League champions during Rafael Benitez’s spell in charge of the west London club.
However, Azpilicueta has since established himself as one of the best centre-halves in the Premier League since Antonio Conte took over the reins of the Stamford Bridge outfit.
Chelsea switched to a 3-4-3 formation last term which allowed Conte to use Azpilicueta alongside David Luiz and Gary Cahill at centre-half.
The 28-year-old made two assists in Chelsea’s landslide 4-0 win against Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Azpilicueta has now created four goals for his team-mates which is more than any other Chelsea player in the 2017-18 season so far.
Former Spurs forward Crooks lavished praise on Azpilicueta for his contributions going forward so far this term.
“He’s only done it again. Cesar Azpilicueta keeps producing match-winning passes. His first ball was, in my view, the pass of the match,” Crooks told BBC Sport.
“The Spain international split Stoke City’s defence in two and sent Alvaro Morata on his way to claim his first goal of the game.
“As for Azpilicueta’s second assist, you will have to explain to me how the defender found himself so far up the pitch in open play.
“Granted, it started with a free-kick but to see the Spaniard burst through Stoke’s defensive ranks and lay a gift-wrapped chest pass for Morata to finish was pure quality.”
Azpilicueta was part of the Chelsea team that won the Premier League title with two games to spare last season in Conte’s first campaign in charge.
The Spanish defender moved to Chelsea from Marseille in an £8m deal in 2013.
Chelsea are bidding to become the first team since Manchester United to retain their Premier League title.