Few would debate how integral Spanish string-puller Cesc Fabregas has been to Chelsea’s scintillating start to the campaign.
The sublime creative powers their £30m summer recruit possesses has allowed the west Londoners to evolve from result-grinding pragmatists into an attacking force so ferocious Blues battering ram striker Didier Drogba has labelled it ‘the most dangerous’ he has ever been involved with.
Scything defences with carefree abandon, Fabregas has spoken of his delight with life at Stamford Bridge, stating:
“I am playing football where I feel really good, in the position like to play in. I feel free.
“Perhaps I’m playing the best football of my career.”
Chelsea are six points clear at the top of the Premier League, have won their Champions League group and can look forward to a Capital One Cup quarter-final clash with Derby in the coming weeks – it’s easy to see why he’s enjoying himself.
But delectation aside, it’s debateable whether Fabregas is correct regarding his form.
This table compiled of data taken from his 2009/10 Premier League season with London rivals Arsenal begs to differ.
A frankly phenomenal ten assists in 12 outings suggests the Barcelona-born playmaker will surpass the 13 he recorded with the Gunners that year with ease.
But with just one Chelsea goal to his name, he’s sure to finish some way short of the 15 he netted for Arsene Wenger’s men.
These figures indicate Fabregas is clearly capable of scoring as well as providing, which suggests the role Jose Mourinho has him playing isn’t enabling the 27-year-old to produce his best.
No player in the Premier League can rival the La Masia graduate for touches of the ball this term – his 1,354 is by some way the leading total in the division, while more than half of these (738) are in the opposition half.
Not even a quarter occur in the final third though, with Fabregas’ 401 way behind the pace-setting 548 of Eden Hazard.
What’s even more striking is that, with just 19, he only scrapes into the top 50 penalty-box touches amongst his fellow midfielders; club colleague Hazard, by contrast, leads the way with 85.
The vastly varied locations of where Fabregas touches the ball explains his ridiculously high passing figures, though the deep-lying orchestration position he rarely vacates is hampering his laudable goal-getting prowess.
Imagine how formidable Chelsea would be with that.