I’m jumping the gun a little bit here with regards to possible team selections for Saturday’s match against Swansea City, but there are a few mildly interesting quotes making the rounds from Swans midfielder Leroy Fer, he of the “tackle” on Gary Cahill that played such a crucial role in Chelsea dropping points in Wales earlier in the season, which may be worthy of a quick look.
“Kante and Matic, it's one of the best midfields in the league, if not the best.”
“They are strong, you can see how good Kante was for Leicester and now he is doing the same for Chelsea and you can the difference he has made to how those teams are doing. Matic has been having a good season too and is strong and protects the defence very well in the new shape they have been playing.”
“The gaffer is going to work hard to try and identify their weaknesses I think and we have to try to exploit them. But Chelsea are the best team in the league right now. They're in first place and they're maybe going to be champions.”
-Leroy Fer; source: South Wales Evening Post
The gaffer of course is former Chelsea assistant Paul Clement, and given the surprisingly good start to his tenure at Swansea, we should expect him to try to indeed identify any and all weaknesses in the Chelsea setup.
Kanté is a lock, needless to say, but we may have an opportunity here to switch things up a bit and instead of starting the usual pairing, we could hand Cesc Fàbregas a well-earned start.
Fàbregas actually has the third longest active consecutive appearance streak (in all competitions) going in the squad, though only half of those appearances have been starts. He hasn’t started a league match since December 31st, even though for a while it looked he might be rotating with Matić in a sort of home-away scheme. Granted, our away matches since that win over Stoke have been Spurs, Leicester, Liverpool, and Burnley, but Fàbregas was also on the bench for Hull at home and, more understandably, Arsenal at home. Cesc has played every single minute of our FA Cup campaign so far, yet his contributions in the league have been just as important, if not even more so in the relatively limited amount of minutes he’s been getting.
While the biggest risk of giving him the start is not having him available as a late-game game-changing option, if Swansea are so specifically expecting to face Kanté and Matić, maybe it’s time for a little tactical surprise? Not to mention, with Swans likely to sit deep and hang on for dear life, we might just need 90 rather than just 9 minutes of Magic Hat action to unlock them. (I’m not really considering a formation other than 3-4-3, mind you, which is another option — hello, 3-5-2 — albeit an even more remote one.)
Thoughts? Is this the worst idea or the best idea? (No middle ground; this is the Internet!)