Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard is playing at the same level now to that which won him the PFA Player of the Year award in 2015, according to Match of the Day pundit Danny Murphy.
The Belgium captain was the best player on the pitch as Chelsea went nine points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Hazard was involved in the goal which resulted in Cesar Azpilicueta whipping in the delivery which was headed in by Diego Costa on the stroke of half-time at Selhurst Park, and Murphy feels the forward is back to his brilliant best.
‘He was sensational, and I had to pick him out because he was the difference between the two sides,’ Murphy said. ‘He gives them so much in the attacking third.
‘He puts a shift in defensively as well, but he’s so direct. He looks fit and he looks sharp and he caused Palace all sorts of problems today.
‘He drifts in off that left side now. Because he’s got Marcos Alonso playing the left wing back role, he doesn’t have to be as wide and he ends up drifting all over the place. Sometimes he pops up as a No 10, sometimes on the right side.’
Just over a year ago, in Jose Mourinho’s final game in charge of the Blues, Hazard limped off in the first half of their 2-1 defeat by Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
The 25-year-old cut a forlorn figure that day, going off with a hip injury but Mourinho at the time claimed his player made the decision to come off ‘within 10 seconds’ – leading to questions over the severity of the knock.
But Hazard’s problems of last season are now well in the past after another sign that he has recaptured his best form under Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge.
Murphy continued: ‘He goes from zero to 60 so quickly, he’s got that wonderful balance and ability to go past people and it’s his decision making for a forward that I really like.
‘He knows when to dribble and when to pass, he’s got that all round game. He’s playing as well now as he did when he won player of the year. He’s got great awareness of people around him.
‘He goes past people so easily with his speed and low centre of gravity, he must be a nightmare to play against. It’s obvious the midweek break did him a bit of good. He looked the freshest player on the pitch.
‘Although he didn’t score or make a goal today, he was sensational for long periods.’