Since Antonio Conte took over at Chelsea, Cesc Fabregas has appeared to be surplus to requirements, and the midfielder has only had three starts in the Premier League all season.
The Italian’s favoured 3-4-3 formation sees Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante ahead of Fabregas in the pecking order and rumours are circulating that the Spain international could be on the move in January.
Prior to the 1-0 victory over Sunderland in which Fabregas scored the winning goal, the Independent claimed that Conte had hinted at a move for Fabregas in the transfer window.
Conte had failed to confirm that Fabregas would still be at Stamford Bridge in spring and this was enough to fuel speculation that the player may be on the move to Italy.
Fabregas’s performance against Sunderland should be enough to make Conte realise he needs to hold onto the former Barcelona man.
Although Chelsea are storming ahead at the top of the table at the moment, injuries could cause the side to veer off course. Conte’s choice to play the same core players each week has been effective but the Sunderland game proved that the backup brigade can fill in when needed to.
Chelsea are now firm favourites to win the title with betting sites like Sportsbet.io, but Conte could slip up if he allows one of his strongest reinforcements to leave. Fabregas was such a vital player in Chelsea’s last title win and registered 19 assists in the league (see video below). The talent is still there, and Conte may be able to reinvigorate it like he has done with many of the other underperformers of last year’s campaign.
The quality on display at Stamford Bridge this season appears to be causing all the players to raise their game. Eden Hazard has been a pivotal cog in the Blues attack this season, but they cannot rely on the Belgian to carry the team all the way. The 2014-15 Player of the Season missed the Stadium of Light clash but Willian stepped in and deputised well.
With Fabregas also coming in for Matic this was a slightly changed side but Chelsea still got the result. The key seems to be to keep the core spine of players and then small changes can be made elsewhere.
The two players who were given a chance against the basement dwelling Black Cats clearly wanted to make an impression. Fabregas made 117 passes, created 4 big chances, and fired 3 shots on goal. Willian had an 87.3% pass completion rate, created 4 chances, and had 5 shots on goal. These stats prove that other players are willing to inject the same levels of intensity as the main group.
Conte commented after the Sunderland game that sometimes he needed the technical ability of Fabregas in midfield, indicating that the Spaniard’s future could be with the club. But the former Juventus boss has proved to be unpredictable in the past, so fans will have to wait and see what the future holds for Fabregas in the New Year.