If this, his 376th (15th most all-time), is to be Branislav Ivanovic's final appearance for Chelsea, it's not the worst way to go out. A goal in front of the Matthew Harding (his 33rd for the club overall), a penalty won for Batshuayi to convert, several excellent crosses (crosses! several!), and an overall display showing that he's quite capable of carrying on playing this season and beyond — a fitting final act for any club legend.
Ivanović has not been a starter since Conte switched to the 3-4-3, but with the 32-year-old's contract set to expire this summer, his time at Chelsea was always likely to be coming to an end this season. Increasingly, there have been signs and rumors everywhere, including a substitute appearance for Kenedy on Saturday, adding to our various wing-back options, which now also include Nathan Ake on the left and Pedro on the right, apparently.
In his post-match comments, Antonio Conte more or less confirmed that Bane is indeed leaving.
"First of all, I'm pleased for Iva. He scored a goal and that is always a great joy for a player."
"In this situation it's important to evaluate a lot of things, above all for the player. He hasn't played a lot for us this season. I know when a player has the habit to play every game and it happens that you're not playing regularly, it's not easy to accept this decision."
"Iva knows the situation well. I'm pleased if he remains here with us, but in this situation the player must make the best decision for him and his family."
"I'm ready to accept any decision. He deserves great respect for his career at Chelsea. He has played a lot of games, he has won a lot, and we have to respect his decision."
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Ivanovic has been strongly linked with Zenit St. Petersburg this week, while West Brom manager Tony Pulis was picked out by the cameras at Stamford Bridge on Saturday adding to the links with the Albion. Everton are another late contender for Ivanovic's signature.
Wherever he may go, he will be missed.