Cesc Fabregas believes Antonio Conte’s decision to switch to a 3-5-2 formation has been key to reviving his Chelsea career.
The Spain international struggled to cement a starting place in the Chelsea side which coasted to the Premier League title last season but the Italian’s switch to a three-man midfield has revitalised the former Arsenal captain in recent weeks.
Fabregas was in sensational form as Chelsea came from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday cutting the gap at the top of the table, temporarily at least, to eight points and the 30-year-old believes he is benefiting from being stationed closer to Eden Hazard who scored twice in Chelsea’s fourth win in their last five games.
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He said: ‘Now we’ve slightly changed a little bit the formation, and playing with three midfielders it allows me to be higher up the pitch.
‘I wouldn’t say freedom because the coach likes to be tactically very well positioned, but can be closer to Eden, we manage to find each other easier, I think this helps my game.
‘When you have players like N’Golo, Bakayoko, Drinkwater, they have a fantastic job, I hope we can go on in this way.’
‘Hazard heir to Messi and Ronaldo’
Eden Hazard is among of handful of players who can succeed Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the summit of world football, according to Graeme Souness.
The Belgium international strengthened his claim to be heir to Messi and Ronaldo’s throne with two goals in Chelsea’s 3-1 victory over Newcastle on Saturday.
In a scintillating display, Hazard registered a career-high nine attempts on goal, six of which were on target – the most by a Premier League player this season.
And Sky Sports pundit Souness was left in no doubt the “unplayable” Hazard could follow in the footsteps of modern football’s marquee players.
“When you think of the players who can take the mantle from the two top players at the moment – Messi and Ronaldo – Hazard comes into that category. He is that good,” Souness said.
“His best years are ahead of him. My only criticism of him is that sometimes he’s not bang at it, but when he is in the mood he was today he is unplayable.
“The truly great players become unplayable, and when he is at it he certainly is great.
“You can set all the bear traps and obstacles for him but, like all the great players, he finds a solution to what’s put in front of him.
“He’s among a handful of players who you can say are unplayable on their day.”
Hazard capped Chelsea’s victory – which moved them level with second-placed Manchester United, eight points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester City – with a nonchalant chipped penalty.
Antonio Conte hailed the Belgian’s performance, highlighting his burgeoning relationship with strike partner Alvaro Morata.