Chelsea maintained good form with Saturday’s 3-1 win over Newcastle United, making it seven games unbeaten (six wins) in the Premier League, and at least maintaining pace with the two Manchester sides above us in the table.
It wasn’t a perfect performance from the Blues, with the visitors taking the lead with what was just the fourth goal conceded during this seven-match unbeaten run. That goal fortunately proved as nothing more than a wake-up call in the end, as Cesc Fàbregas explained after the game.
"We made a mistake. I thought we were good up to that point but maybe it was a wake-up call, maybe the game needed it from our point of view to put the accelerator on and we did that. We managed to come back well and in the end, it was a good win."
"It is still a long way to go and that is why we have to hope Manchester City will slip up and we will manage to put some pressure on them. They are there because they deserve it and our job is just to keep going and see what happens at the top."
Saturday’s game was also another indicator that the 3-5-2 is now the primary tactical setup for the team, completing the evolution from last season’s 3-4-3, which is still seeing regular use in “easier” games. Conte had talked prior to the game about the need for balance and the benefit of having two different regular tactics for the team, which give him the option to tailor the midfield as he sees fit. For Fàbregas, the 3-5-2 is yet another lease on life, granting him the opportunity to influence the game without being as exposed as in the 3-4-3 — even if it doesn’t make him immune to getting tackled by the referee or to a bit of stern tactical instruction in the middle of the game from Conte, who at one point had to tell him to stay a bit wider and help out Victor Moses.
"Now we have slightly changed a little bit the formation and that allows me to be a little bit higher up the pitch with, I won’t say freedom because the coach likes everyone to be very well-positioned, but I can be closer to Eden as well and we can manage to find each other easier and this helps my game, and when you have players like N’Golo Kanté, like Tiemoué Bakayoko, like Danny Drinkwater then they do a fantastic job. I am just happy and hopefully we can keep on like this."
-Cesc Fàbregas; source: Chelsea FC
So say we all.