If there was any debate about whether Cesc Fabregas should return to Chelsea’s starting lineup for this weekend’s match against Arsenal, it’s all over.
The Spaniard absolutely has to start against the Gunners. Conte has no choice but to play him.
There is something to be said about seizing an opportunity and Fabregas did just that against Leicester City in their cup tie.
Chelsea have missed their maestro dearly, as they have been unable to establish any sort of attacking flow without him in the side, over the past few games.
Matic looked solid against the first three opponents, but the Liverpool match exposed Matic as a passenger. It wasn’t so much as he wasn’t playing well, as it was his lack of a defined role.
His job in this team is so uncertain and it’s easy to tell that he’s unsure as to where his position lies as well.
However, with Fabregas in the side, there is no question as to the role that he takes on. He is the magician, the focal point, and the puppetmaster of Chelsea’s attack, pulling the right strings at the right time to create a masterpiece.
There is no doubting that his talents have been missed in the side. He’ll be welcomed by 2 players especially, namely Hazard and Costa.
Hazard will no longer take on the sole burden of distribution. You can tell that both Fabregas and the Belgian are more effective when they are both on the pitch.
Furthermore, perhaps Costa will actually be picked out a few more times. The Spanish striker has been working tirelessly, making strong runs, only to be left chasing a bad pass or bemoaning the lack of an attempt at all.
Fabregas is the sole player that can pinpoint these runs and effectively dictate Chelsea’s possession.
However, his addition to the side won’t come without question marks. With Oscar’s run of form, coupled with Matic’s uncertainty, the likely causality in Fabregas’s introduction would be the Serbian.
If this is the case, then it begins to put a lot of pressure on N’Golo Kante to shield Chelsea’s leaky defense. Kante has taken on the role well, but it has been somewhat helped by Matic’s ability to win tackles.
With the Serbian gone and Oscar only able to do so much within his limitations, it’ll see the majority of the responsibility fall on Chelsea’s newest Frenchman.
This could present problems as we saw when Matic shouldered the full task last season. He’s still recovering and trying to find his form.
This all being said, Conte can no longer justify not starting Fabregas. He’s too valuable to the team.
Furthermore, Oscar has been too good as a box-to-box midfielder to sit on the bench. The question becomes, where does Fabregas fit?
Perhaps, Conte can look to Loftus-Cheek or Chalobah to fill the role Matic was supposed to fill. This would obviously create the same selection headache, but at least it’s another option. This is also assuming that Conte can see Loftus-Cheek as something other than a forward.
There are several question marks surrounding Chelsea’s lineup as we look forward to the weekend. However, the only person that can answer them is their new Italian manager.
You’d have to think that no matter what 11 players take the field at the Emirates this Saturday, Cesc Fabregas has to be one of them.