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Fàbregas, Chelsea sparkle under the Cherries' moon

I've seen the future and, hey, maybe it ain't so bad.

When 2 R In Love
When 2 R In Love
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Cesc walked in. Hazard woke up.

And Chelsea? Well, the Blues looked like the Blues of old.

Yet another masterclass from Fàbregas and the long-awaited end of the great goal drought highlighted a 4-1 victory for the visitors against Bournemouth on Saturday at Dean Court. There was to be no Premier League double over the champions for Eddie Howe's men, though the hosts contributed much in an open, oftentimes frenetic affair aided by the lack of, well, any stakes.

This was entertaining fare and Fàbregas was central to it all. His renaissance during the second half of the season has been a rare light in a season awash in darkness, and Saturday the Spaniard was insatiable. Perhaps there is something in the water (does not compute) off the Jurassic Coast.

Or maybe he just had his starfish and coffee. And a side order of ham.

Either way, Fàbregas was electric, setting up the opening three goals and playing a pivotal role in the fourth. The three assists - one more than Mesut Özil has in calendar year 2016, mind you - were lovely, but there was so much more; intricate combination play, industry, confidence and, of course, those majestic flicks - it was, for the lack of a better term, a superfunkycalifragisexy performance.

Hazard's emancipation, meanwhile, had been long awaited. Despite some noticeable rust, he netted in each half to cast aside the chaos and disorder that has been this season, at least temporarily, and perhaps lay the foundation for a new day under incoming coach Antonio Conte. The Belgian's opening goal, after 34 minutes, was his first from open play for the club since April 18, 2015, a span of one year and five days.

Of course, Hazard's reawakening came courtesy of Fàbregas, his cushioned back-heel leaving the Bournemouth defense ragged. Hazard's finish was equally good, a perfectly placed low drive to the near post past a flailing Artur Boruc. His second, which concluded the scoring, was not so much diamonds or pearls but simple elegance, a close-range finish following an imperious run from Nemanja Matić (remember him?) and, you guessed it, Fàbregas.

Illness forced Gary Cahill out of contention and interim manager Guus Hiddink to reorganize his defense, the Dutchman opting for John Obi Mikel rather than American Matt Miazga to partner Branislav Ivanovic in central defense. It was a curious decision, Obi in a new position that is, and one that almost immediately looked a disastrous one. Bournemouth were rampant in the early stages, but in blistering forward the hosts looked a bit too leisurely at the back.

Chelsea, Fàbregas in particular, exploited this reckless approach (baby, you're much too fast) and the space left on the counter to open the scoring inside six minutes. A vintage threaded pass from Fàbregas caught Bournemouth fullback Charlie Daniels walking in through the out door, and Pedro, racing down the inside-right channel, collected, weighted and dinked home with a kiss. Scandalously simple.

Soon, it was 2-0 through Hazard and though the hosts managed to pull a goal back through captain Tommy Elphick before intermission, the second half belonged to Chelsea. Before Hazard capped the scoring in added time, Fàbregas and Willian ensured the points with a goal almost identical to the match's opener. Another precision through ball from Fàbregas found Willian, who, like Pedro before, provided another Blue Light finish to the move.

There is indeed joy in repetition.

The result propelled Chelsea (47 points) into the top half of the Premier League table, above Stoke City on goal difference and with a game in hand. Far too late, admittedly, but the club is climbing the ladder, so to speak.

Times have been changing at the club since December and, with just four matches remaining this season, it's nearly time for something new. You say you want a leader; well, the Conte era is nearly upon us.

But not yet. And today, the old guard raged against the dying embers to give us something not exactly special but damn fun. It may not be fanciful to relish these, the final days of a calamitous season, but there is something to be said for embracing them because nothing - and I mean nothing - compares to a Chelsea win.

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