Will Cesc Fabregas continue to flourish?
Traditionally, Cesc Fabregas has tailed off in the second half of the season after performing at a world-class level in the opening stages of the campaign.
This season, however, Fabregas has done the complete opposite and has flourished under interim Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink. At the beginning of the campaign, Fabregas was struggling for confidence under Jose Mourinho but the Dutchman has given the Spain international a new lease of life at Stamford Bridge.
Fabregas has formed a formidable partnership with Diego Costa during Hiddink’s tenure and the Spain stars are shining at the forefront of Chelsea’s attack. The Blues are still unbeaten in the Premier League under Hiddink and Fabregas’ form has been a key reason for their resurgence up the table. In fact, Chelsea aren’t out of the fight for a top-six finish just yet and the Blues are priced at 10/1 in the Bet365 Premier League betting markets to snatch a Europa League spot... or better when this article was produced.
Under Mourinho, there was far too much pressure on Fabregas and Chelsea’s other creative midfielders to succeed. The Portuguese was quite restrictive in his style of play, with former colleagues admitting their surprise at his style, and in a way, it was Jose’s way or the high way.
Chelsea’s flair players, including Fabregas, Oscar and Willian, have all profited since Mourinho’s departure and this is largely due to Hiddink’s free-flowing style of play. And although the Blues are going to miss out on silverware this season, Chelsea supporters can see the difference in commitment, effort and belief on the field.
According to reports, current Italy boss Antonio Conte will replace Hiddink at the end of the season. The majority of the Stamford Bridge faithful are excited at their chances of regaining the Premier League crown next campaign and they’re well within their rights to assume this.
Conte has been described as the “Italian Mourinho” at times and is a born winner, but he also encourages his side to play inspiring, attacking football rather than restricting his players to certain defensive systems.
At 28 years old, Fabregas isn’t getting any younger. However, Conte will recognise his talents – just like Hiddink did – and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Chelsea star retain his place in the heart of the midfield. Fabregas is one of the best players in the world at controlling the tempo of a football match. In a way, he does exactly what Xavi did at Barcelona for so many years. He controls proceedings and helps to spread the play and expose the opposing defence.
Just when it seemed Fabregas’ Chelsea career was coming to an end, Hiddink helped to revitalise the Spanish midfielder and the Blues star is now enjoying his football once again. He scored two goals in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with West Ham United in March and is beginning to impose himself back on the starting line-up. While his career at Stamford Bridge remains up in the air for now, the likelihood is that he will slot in comfortably as one of Conte’s favourite and most reliable players.