They say class is permanent. However you expect it to fade away, it is bound to disappoint you. And Cesc Fabregas was its proof on Monday night against Burnley. At the end of 90 minutes, Michael Oliver‘s whistle must have given Chelsea supporters a feeling of extreme satisfaction; but on the other hand, for supporters of the Manchester sides, Arsenal and Liverpool, all it took was less than 35 minutes to give them nightmares. And why not! A team that, in spite of falling behind by a goal against the home team within 14 minutes of the start, bangs in 3 in the next 20 minutes-none by fluke but with precision and skill, is rightfully supposed to be feared.
But for Arsenal fans it is as worse as a dagger to the heart, as it is their ex-captain that is the architect of this new Chelsea uprising. And if that rainbow of a cross for Andre Schurrle’s goal is to be believed, Monday was just the calm before the storm.
Chelsea’s two major concerns last season was the lack of a prolific goal scorer and a deep-lying playmaker. Diego Costa’s arrival has solved Mourinho’s woes upfront, as he is a proven poacher with goals to his name, currently at his peak. What is then left is one area-centre midfield. Last season, Mourinho assigned Frank Lampard and Ramires to play the role of the deep lying playmaker who orchestrated the attacks from the centre of the park. Although, they did a reasonably good job, they struggled when pitted against sides that defended with a deeper backline, in which case, both lacked the vision to push in those defense-splitting through balls and crosses.
Although Chelsea’s pack of swift wingers and attacking midfielders had the pace to get behind the defenses, they never received the ball as much as and in areas they would have wished to. Even during counter attacks, it was very rarely the players in the double-pivot initiated the counters. And this is where Fabregas steps in.
A look at a comparison of Fabregas, Lampard and Ramires’ playmaking stats from last season tells why Fabregas is going to be very important for Chelsea this season. Fabregas excels with an average of 2.12 chances created every 90 minutes and outdoes Lampard and Ramires in pass completions and the number of assists. And even though Lampard takes more shots on goal on an average, Fabregas still has a better shot accuracy than Lampard and so can pop in with occasional goals as well.
It is not entirely fair to trust these stats alone, as Fabregas was used in more advanced roles for Barcelona more times in comparison to Lampard and Ramires. But Fabregas has already proven that he is as good from the deep lying role as well, with his performances at Arsenal. Fabregas dictated the game at Arsenal from the centre of the park and was a constant threat to opposition defenses with dangerous balls that picked his teammates runs with perfection.
In the match against Burnley, Fabregas was highly impressive with 89 passes at an accuracy of 88%, 2 through balls and 8 out of 12 crosses finding the target. Yet another positive aspect of his game was that he was ready to go up and down the pitch as he was seen dropping back deep to receive the ball from the backline and also was seen getting into more advanced positions numerous times. He even did his defensive work quite neatly with 3 successive tackles, 3 interceptions and 1 clearance. These stats are clearly an indication that he seem to be the right link between the Chelsea attack and defense, shifting positions according to the situation.
From the pre-seasons and now with the match against Burnley, it is evident that Fabregas’ box-to-box abilities are still intact. And with Nemanja Matic considerably reducing his defensive responsibilities, it looks extremely likely that Fabregas would run havoc this season. It is a disappointment that Mourinho let Lampard leave, but there is no doubt that he has replaced him with who is likely the best man to replace him. Mourinho has an incredible record in all his second seasons at every club he has been at, and this current Chelsea squad looks set to help him maintain that. And, Fabregas already looks set to serve the desserts for the celebrations!