In a recent interview, Cesc Fàbregas revealed how in the darkest moments of this already pretty bleak season, he essentially "forgot how to play football". With all confidence drained from the squad, plus all the controversy both in public and behind the scenes, even a seasoned veteran and a proven winner like Cesc Fàbregas was affected.
In the second half of the season, since that watershed moment lifted some of the oppressive pressure on the squad, Cesc has slowly recovered and has even put in a few performances reminiscent of last season's title-winning form. Yesterday's magnificent midfield display was perhaps the best of this season's efforts. Hiddink certainly thought so, and Fàbregas himself might not disagree.
"Things happen. Sometimes you don't have it for a while then all of a sudden you have many in one game - that's just the way it goes. I'm just happy for the team performance, obviously for my individual performance too, but I'm feeling good and that's the most important thing."
"We were a bit fortunate in the first 20 minutes - they started stronger than us - but we scored in a fantastic counter attack. In the second half we played very well, we controlled the game and we could have scored even more goals."
"It was too open for the way we wanted it. It's the end of the season but all teams want to win so maybe it was a bit more open that normal but it was a nice game."
-Cesc Fàbregas; Source: Sky Sports via London Evening Standard
The first part of the quote refers to the hat-trick of assists that Cesc collected against Bournemouth.
If the Premier League believed in secondary assists, which I think they should, Fàbregas would've gotten a fourth even, on Chelsea's fourth goal of the day. But as it stands, he 'only' got three, to give him seven on the season and propel him to third on the all-time Premier League assist list.
Rarified air, especially once you consider that Fabregas is the only one on this list with fewer than 300 Premier League games to his name and both Lampard and Giggs had accumulated over 600 in their long careers. Of course, most of Cesc's assists had come in an Arsenal shirt, but he does have 25 in 68 Chelsea league games.
The assists themselves on Saturday tell only part of the story. Magic Hat's best touches were some of those that were not rewarded with goals, including a wonderful flick to shot-shy Hazard and plenty of searching balls down the channels and behind the defense. In possession, Fàbregas was ridiculously good. If somehow we could ensure that he could operate in this much space at all times, we'd be scoring by the bucketloads every match (and thus not have to worry about any defensive shortcomings).
Perhaps Conte will in-fact try to emulate with Fabregas the old strategies he devised for Pirlo, which allowed the magnificently bearded one to influence games even though it was patently obvious how he could be stopped (see: Oscar v. Juventus in 2012). Or perhaps the new Chelsea boss will have something different in mind. Regardless, Cesc is probably well within sight of second on that assist list. And most importantly, hopefully those future assists will bring Chelsea back within sight of the Top 4 and the Champions League once again.