The majority of football watchers have been convinced for some time that 6/4 title favourites Chelsea will go well this year, but the sparkling performance of Premier League returnee Cesc Fabregas in the Blues’ 3-1 win at Burnley still took a few by surprise.
Fabregas laid on a pair of inch-perfect assists for Chelsea’s second and third goals, while making sure he was involved in every good move Jose Mourinho’s side managed.
The ex-Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder is the evens favourite to be named August’s Premier League player of the month. Here are three reasons why there’s still value to be had in those odds.
No player in the Premier League stole as many positive headlines as Fabregas on the opening weekend.
WhoScored.com list Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, Manchester City’s Gael Clichy, Hull’s James Chester and Sunderland’s Sebastian Larsson as the first-fourth best players in the Premier League based on opening day evidence.
Fabregas wasn’t far off the Reds’ England forward in fifth, with an 8.73 rating compared to Sterling’s 8.95, although the uber-favourable coverage received from Sky Sports and the media in general suggests the Spaniard had the better weekend.
Splitting defences with deft passes, such as the remarkable ball that handed Andre Schurrle Chelsea’s second on a plate, is what Fabregas does best and is there for, so expect the 27-year-old’s plaudits to intensify over the coming weeks.
Chelsea’s win at Turf Moor was Fabregas’ 12th consecutive August league win.
Whether at Arsenal, Barcelona or Chelsea, the La Masia graduate has proved quite the rabbit’s foot as summer draws to a close.
The pick of his sides’ August victories since 2007 include a 6-1 Gunners mauling of Everton at Goodison Park in 2009, a 6-0 win at the Emirates over Blackpool the following season and Los Blaugrana’s 7-0 schooling of Levante at the Camp Nou last term.
Fabregas has struck five league goals in August over the past decade.
The first Premier League player of the month winners over the past three terms had all signed for their sides during that calendar year.
Club stalwarts have had no luck hunting down this prize in recent seasons, with Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge, Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher and Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko all taking the first monthly laurels since 2011, despite only arriving at their employers nine months or fewer beforehand.
Some prior Premier League experience is clearly required, but with 213 English top-flight appearances behind him, and a man-of-the-match-winning, double-assisting debut in the bank for the Blues, Fabregas clearly has his feet firmly under the table. Punt accordingly.