You cannot mention a couple of players who have endured a torrid season without talking about Cesc Fabregas. From being our main man in midfield for the past 2 seasons, he was reduced to a mere bench warmer under Conte. The Spaniard has not made more than 2 starts in the EPL this season, and prior to his start against Manchester City on Saturday, his only other start was against The Gunners, a game that would ultimately sideline him from the first team for months. So underwhelming was Fabregas’ display against Arsenal that Conte had to sub him way earlier than normal. After that game, he did not make another league appearance for Chelsea until Saturday. He has even been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge in recent months, with AC Milan amongst the clubs rumoured to court his services. But Fabregas never gave up on Chelsea, at least, not publicly, and Conte never did either.
You’d recall that part of the reason Fabregas has found it difficult to break into the Chelsea first 11 is because of his inability to quickly adapt to the Conte system, however all that seem to have changed, judging by his performance against City on Saturday. In the absence of injured Nemanja Matic, Conte handed Fabregas his first start in months, and only his second in the EPL this term. When the starting lineup was revealed, I’m sure a lot of Chelsea fans must have been scared and unsure what to expect, seeing as it was the first time in over a month Conte would be altering his winning 11, and considering that Fabregas’ last start didn’t augur so well for both him and Chelsea. But this was a different Fabregas – a Fabregas that seemed to have bought into the Conte philosophy. Against a good City Midfield consisting of Gundogan and Fenandinho, Fabregas was able to hold his own.
Fabregas’ excellent display on Saturday afternoon didn’t end there though, as he had over 80% pass accuracy in the opposition box. He was instrumental to our equalizing goal, after putting a sublime up through pass to Diego Costa, which was well controlled and converted by the in-form striker. It would be too early for me to say that he is totally the kind of midfielder Conte wants him to be, but I wouldn’t say he’s far from it. If anything, his performance on Saturday says a lot about his willingness to learn and adapt. And with that sort of display, I doubt Conte would want to lose the man. Matic has obviously been instrumental to our run over these past 8 games, but even he may not find it easy to breeze straight into the starting 11 again if Fabgregas continues to shine in his absence. Life, and football is about identifying opportunities when they come, and utilizing them well. Fabregas got one yesterday, and he did utilize it, and I think he just may have bought himself more game time under Conte.