I realize that neither the video above nor below are the best quality, but I've yet to find better ones. Will replace if I do.
I wasn't the greatest fan of Cesc Fàbregas over the past couple years I think it's fair to say, but he's grown on me quite a bit over these past few months.
Maybe it's the sort of tragic hero thing. Maybe it's the defiance in the face of an unrest- and rumor-hungry media. Maybe it's the repeated reports of an exemplary attitude in training and so on. Maybe it's his campaign against referees (got another one yesterday, running over Neil Swarbrick). Who knows.
Maybe it's simply that we're not so utterly reliant on him to open up defenses, a strategy that worked really well for half a season and then not quite as well for another season and a half. Deployed in a much more surgical role so far this season, he's been able to stamp his influence on games quickly and efficiently in crucial, late-game scenarios. And now he's started two of our last three games (once due to injury to Matić, in fairness), we've won them both, and, especially last night at Sunderland, was exactly what was needed.
He had a ridiculous 137 touches.
Fabregas doing a good job as Regista for Conte's Chelsea v Sunderland, 137 touches, 117 passes, 83% passing rate, 1 shot on target & 1 goal https://t.co/wuAaMdOAI2— Il Regista (@IlRegista21) December 14, 2016
Boss Antonio Conte added his praise in the post-match interview, while also talking a bit about the reasons why he chose Matić on Sunday (physicality) and Cesc on Wednesday (technique).
"I am very happy for him. Cesc is a great example for the other players because this was only the third game he has started [in the league]. This month he has a fantastic attitude, great behaviour, great commitment. I have four midfielders and I have to try to make the best choice before every game, and consider also when we have to face a physical opponent and when we need more technique. His answer was very good today and also against Manchester City."
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Meanwhile, Cesc himself enjoyed being able to hit back at his critics with a match-winning performance.
"In football today people forget very, very, very quickly who you are, and what you can do. Hopefully now I can get a run of games in the team."
"People forget that tonight is just the second time in my life that I have played this system, I am getting used to it, I have lots of players in front of me in space and protection behind me."
-Cesc Fàbregas; source: Evening Standard
And if that wasn't a good enough sign of his continuing commitment to the cause, here's a story from Marca from earlier this week about Fàbregas rejecting a €31m/year wage packet from a mystery bidder from the Chinese Super League.
Cesc wants that second Premier League title, methinks. Let's get it.