All eyes were on Cesc Fàbregas, playing in his 101st game for Chelsea but just the second under Antonio Conte. Amid increasing speculation about his future (over which he hit back at the media after the game), Fàbregas produced a two-goal, one-assist performance to surely create a selection headache for the head coach.
"I am pleased for Cesc because he played a good game. I am pleased for him because he showed me in this period a great attitude in training and when I’ve called on him to come on during games."
Next up for Chelsea are Arsenal on Saturday. Fàbregas always seems up to his game when playing against his former team and manager, but Conte wasn’t quite ready to pencil him into the starting lineup just yet.
"All the players in my squad have the possibility to play against Arsenal. There are three days before the game and they have the opportunity to show me during the training sessions – to convince me to put them in."
"I want my players to create good competition and game-by-game give me the opportunity to choose the best line-up."
-Antonio Conte; source: West London Sport
While that sounds good in theory, outside of injury-enforced changes, Conte has yet to name a different starting lineup in league than the one featuring the midfield trio of Kante, Matić, and Oscar. Fabregas’s role has been that of an impact sub, but the fact that he’s done quite well in that limited role, in a way, makes it tough to select him from the start (who else could make such a positive impact when the team needs goals?).
Tough decisions await Antonio Conte.