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Cesc Fabregas

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Don't see him leaving, and it'd leave us very light in central midfield if he does. Kante and Oscar seem to fit Conte's system well, and while I agree that it's frustrating to see Matic in the lineup ahead of him, but we'd lose all physical/aerial presence (however minimal Matic's may be) playing Cesc-Kante-Oscar.

I think the only way he fits is with Oscar out, and it looks like Conte reckons we'd suffer defensively more than we'd gain offensively making that switch right now. Mind you, we're only four competitive matches into his regime, there's every chance the regular XI will look much different by May, and I wouldn't put it past a player of Cesc's quality being a part.

I know you said it, but I just want to reiterate...

Matic is terrible in the air!! For someone who is 6'4 how is that even possible!

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I'm hoping that Conte is just waiting for the new CB to come in so he can play Cesc with Kante or Matic without having to hide behind the sofa every time the opposition counter. If he just doesn't see him in his plans at all I'll be gutted.

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Although we won 3:0 without him on Saturday, I still believe we would be a better team with Cesc in there instead of Oscar or Matic ( depends on the game situation). We are playing more direct now with lots of cross field ball and long pass into space, and there's no better player out there than Cesc doing that. It's incredibly frustrating to watch us missing the pass with little pressure. Maybe if he played on Saturday we would not have got the clean sheet, but we'd put 5-6 pass them.

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5 hours ago, EdinburghBlue said:

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I find it refreshing to see a player so proactive in correcting bad press and stories in the media. It was the same when there was talk about him being a rat. It definitely makes things more interesting than a wall of silence.

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14 hours ago, icecoolguy22 said:

Although we won 3:0 without him on Saturday, I still believe we would be a better team with Cesc in there instead of Oscar or Matic ( depends on the game situation). We are playing more direct now with lots of cross field ball and long pass into space, and there's no better player out there than Cesc doing that. It's incredibly frustrating to watch us missing the pass with little pressure. Maybe if he played on Saturday we would not have got the clean sheet, but we'd put 5-6 pass them.

 

I agree with everything except the last statement..  Cesc is not a goalscorer, he's mainly chance creator and we created enough chances in the burnley game to score at least half of dozen of goals.. With so many players were unlucky with their finishing in that game except costa which he was just bad at it, there is little that cesc can do to enhance the scoreline..  However, if batshuayi was the one who started instead of costa then yeah, it's likely that we'd score more..

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18 hours ago, icecoolguy22 said:

Although we won 3:0 without him on Saturday, I still believe we would be a better team with Cesc in there instead of Oscar or Matic ( depends on the game situation). We are playing more direct now with lots of cross field ball and long pass into space, and there's no better player out there than Cesc doing that. It's incredibly frustrating to watch us missing the pass with little pressure. Maybe if he played on Saturday we would not have got the clean sheet, but we'd put 5-6 pass them.

He should be in for Oscar in my opinion. I like the Kante and Matic partnership, so far it has worked very well for us. I'm not sure we really need Oscar in there though, i think we just need a bit of creativity. Not every midfielder needs to be great defensively, Kante and Matic are doing enough of that themselves. 

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1 hour ago, Scott Harris said:

He should be in for Oscar in my opinion. I like the Kante and Matic partnership, so far it has worked very well for us. I'm not sure we really need Oscar in there though, i think we just need a bit of creativity. Not every midfielder needs to be great defensively, Kante and Matic are doing enough of that themselves. 

 

Especially at home. Should do what Mourinho did and tweak the line up in big games.

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I thought there was a wonderful discussion about Fabregas's role/challenges by @coco, @bola, @opinionsarelike and @Ernie_blue in the Chelsea vs Burnley Match Thread and I thought cross-posting it here would be a good idea.

The following question was raised:

 

Quote

 

But even if you stick to your gun then I just have to ask you this, is there a huge gap between cesc and the likes of iniesta, modrid, silva??

 

 

 

I think the problem with Cesc is that you can't just look at his ability in a vacuum, but you need to consider where he plays and what his function the side is.

A lot of 'luxury players' are forwards or advanced attacking midfielders. In this case, David Silva falls into that category. Fabregas plays a deeper role as a central midfielder and isn't usually asked to press high up the pitch. We need to consider that there is this tactical distinction between the two positions. In defense, the purpose of attacking midfielders/forwards pressing the opposition is usually to stop teams dictating the terms of an attack. These pressing players are rarely expected to win the ball but their pressure often leads  to rush opposing players into a misplay, such as a poor pass or turnover further down the field. Any balls won off a defender are an added bonus of course, and much more dangerous. These tactics create a mismatch or imbalance, because generally speaking, attacking players are better at pressing than defenders are at passing or playing under pressure, thus making it a low-risk, high-reward situation. However, turnovers in the attacking third are rare because defenders usually outnumber attackers, there is more space to play around, and attacking players lack the tackling ability to win balls consistently.

For this role, attacking players require nothing more than fitness and the mental inclination to work hard for the ball. Ball-winning and physical capabilities (such as speed/strength) are generally only helpful extras. And as it's a fairly simple, low-risk high-reward task, the attacking third is where you can afford to 'hide' a luxury player most. 

The roles and functions of attacking players change when they get moved further back into the central midfield. This is for the obvious reason that the opposition are closer to goal, and therefore good defense is more important. Secondly, the level of defense increases to be more technical and tactical beyond mere pressing. Midfielders are required to follow tactical instructions and make judgement as to when to press and when to hold a position and there is more reliance on them to win the ball when they contest it. So given this, the standard of defensive ability required is much higher for Fabregas, than it is for Silva or Iniesta or any other player playing a more advanced role.

Perhaps this is where it becomes a dilemma for Conte and for Chelsea fans. The archetype of the Premier League midfielder is no longer a plodder but quick and mobile and capable of a pass. Playing deeper, Fabregas is required to have physical attributes that lend well to chasing down these sorts of players and cutting out or closing down quick passes to wingers. A glance at any number of post-match discussions will reveal frustration at his inability to cover ground to do exactly that, and encourages a perception among both fans and opposition teams that he is easily to play around and dominate in midfield. Modric, on the other hand, is considered to be relatively industrious for a playmaking midfielder, and proved as much in his time at Tottenham as well as at Real Madrid, consistently averaging a high number of tackles and interceptions for a player of his particular role. He has a quickness and energy about him that Fabregas just seems to lack sometimes. These days it increasingly appears that Fabregas and not Modric is the odd one out, and as a successful opposing manager who no doubt identified this weakness, Conte is perhaps all too aware of this perception.

Now for the twist in the tale. The problem I found when writing this post is that the statistics don't appear to back up anything above, and i'm at a loss to explain it.

I thought that the stats would show that Fabregas, being considered a defensively-weak player, would make less tackles than say Modric. Instead he not just does better, he blows Modric out of the water. Last season, he averaged 2.8 tackles/game, apparently putting him in the same class of defensive output as the likes of Coquelin, Noble, Emre Can etc. Remember, this is a season where he was considered to be a problem! In 2014/15, he averaged about the same (2.6) which again put him in the same class of midfielders. Curiously, the same set of stats suggests he also outperformed Oscar defensively. 

WhoScored.Com Stats

Intuitively, this just doesn't seem right. The closest thing I can think of to an explanation is that Fabregas plays for a team that was largely reliant on counter-attacking, and was also targeted by opposition players, forcing him to be in a position where he had to make tackles. None of the explanations make sense and it seems the most fitting answer is that he is actually far better defensively that we imagine. However there is another possibility, and that is that although he is very good defensively when called upon, his general lack of athleticism and work rate hinders him overall. In other words, Fabregas may be one of the best tacklers in the team, but he is one of the least likely players to get to a position where he could make tackles. I tested this; if this was the case, then Fabregas should have a low amount of total tackles made that season compared to other midfielders, but that wasn't the case either. However, I think I've found another statistical lead. For someone who is apparently such a successful tackler, Fabregas is way, way below (less than half) his midfield peers when it comes to making interceptions over the last two seasons.

For comparison, last season N'Golo Kante averaged 4.7 tackles/game and 4.2 interceptions. You can see that in the way he's playing for where he is a veritable forcefield, but of course he's a world-class, specialist DM. If we look at Fabregas' defensive peers, the likes of Noble, Can, Coquelin etc. averaged between 2-3 intercepts per game; Fabregas averaged 0.6. To put that in perspective it seems to suggest that Fabregas had little more than a 50/50 chance of cutting out a pass in any given EPL game last season. That's horrendous for a central midfielder, especially one who was often played in a deep-lying playmaking role and required to cut out passes to counter-attacking players. This statistical picture is more in line with what we intuitively have observed over the last 18 months or so. 

Not only is Cesc's 0.6 interceptions/game an objectively poor stat, it's even worse when we take into context where Fabregas plays in central midfield and what his defensive role is. Correct me if I'm wrong but Fabregas tended to play as either the most central of a midfield three or the right-sided member of the midfield two. As a central midfield he would be expected to cut out passes from the opposition's defense and midfield to their forwards to help protect his fullback. Oh, guess who his fullback was?

Now we can see Conte's conundrum. With Brana's complete loss of form over the last 18 months, playing Cesc in this role is pretty much a double whammy that has a terrible domino effect on the whole team. Cesc doesn't seem to have the ability to cut out passes, which leaves Branislav more exposed, which requires whoever is playing wide right to almost play three positions defensively...cue the horror of last season's right-hand side defense. Maybe Conte's thinking is that until the fullback situation is sorted, Cesc can't be risked. However, bringing him on as an impact sub against tired legs both increases his attacking threat and mitigates his lack of quickness.

But Conte, if you're reading this...

We have N'Golo Kante. We have the closest thing to Claude Makelele since Makelele himself. I'd call him little Maka but according to Chelsea dressing-room legend 'little Maka' wasn't little by any standard. We have a player who led the league in tackles and interceptions and is blindingly quick AND tactically disciplined. Kante is going to mitigate the Branislav problem far more than Cesc or anyone else will. Fabregas' oddball skill-set means that while he's a liability in certain defensive roles he could still be excellent in Oscar's role further forward, given that historically he's has a produced much much more in raw numbers. He's like a reverse-Pirlo; Pirlo was average in the tackle but a maestro at reading the game and was an integral part of Conte's Juve. Fabregas is potentially an excellent tackler but struggles to read and intercept. Get him further forward where can he do much more damage defensively and in attack as well.

 

 

 

 

Edited by SydneyChelsea

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We need to sell Oscar to Juventus just for that reason in my opinion. I think Oscar just solidifies the midfield and makes us defensively stronger and does nto offer enough going forward. But if we play Kante - Oscar - Matic then we have 3 almost defensive players of which 2 of them are neither good defensively of good offensively. Atleast with Fabergas, we have someone who while subpar defensively will create chances and keep their defenses in check. I want to play a 2 striker system and for longer - not just the final 10 minutes.

Edited by brownindian

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Yeah but basically if the above holds, Fabregas can only be used when Kante is in the team or until we get a better right-back. Oscar is great as far as cover is concerned and in this hyper- inflated market, I doubt very much we'd get a player to replace him as a squad player for under 40m.

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Good post Sydney, what I found interesting was Mersons review of the game last Saturday. He said any team in the world would bring Fabregas on as one of your 3 subs. He also said the game was made for him to come on for. He gave his opinion that Fabregas would be leaving as others did on the show.

My personal opinion is there is enough defence minded players to cover fabregas. It's like watching Ozil at Arsenal, very similar players and Fab can play Cam. Kante, Matic and Willian can easily cover Fabregas and with a new fullback and hopefully Dave at RB I think that makes the defence stronger.

i know it's two years ago but was it against Burnley when Fabregas played that pass. His the only player in Chelseas squad capable of that and that was a stand up and applaud pass.

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If it comes down to Oscar v Cesc in the forward position (which I think is the only position Cesc can hope to play under Conte)......and Conte likes what Oscar offers us, over what Cesc offers us in that forward role, you have to conclude that Cesc will not be playing much football this season, as Oscar hardly ever gets injured or suspended.

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In my view it's his best position until we solve our issues at RB and CB. It's risky to play him as one of the two deeper mids.

Historically, though, being pushed further forward hurts his attacking game as there's less space for him to operate and he is often back-to-goal which limits his effectiveness. That's a tactical problem from the system. Also, it removes a mismatch that favours him. When be plays deep, opposition midfielder track him with attacking players who are not as good defensively and therefore he's harder to man-mark. Playing him further forward when we're dominating possession means the opposition can just stick their best DM on him to nullify.

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47 minutes ago, brownindian said:

We need to sell Oscar to Juventus just for that reason in my opinion. I think Oscar just solidifies the midfield and makes us defensively stronger and does nto offer enough going forward. But if we play Kante - Oscar - Matic then we have 3 almost defensive players of which 2 of them are neither good defensively of good offensively. Atleast with Fabergas, we have someone who while subpar defensively will create chances and keep their defenses in check. I want to play a 2 striker system and for longer - not just the final 10 minutes.

I didn't see your edited post. I agree with that, although I don't think we need to sell Oscar necessarily to finance such a move. Had we kept De Bruyne or gone after someone like Draxler or Hamsik I think we'd have the best of both worlds in that position.

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Good initial post sydney, although i do think that if he plays with matic and kante, then it really doesnt matter that he doesnt make a lot of interceptions, we have 2 players in there that do that already. 

I think he will play  himself into the starting 11 before xmas, he is too good of a footballer not to.

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