Cesc Fabregas claims the greater amount of time Manchester City had to rest ahead of last weekend’s clash is the main reason for Chelsea’s defeat to the league leaders.
Chelsea were outplayed on Saturday evening by a City side that is in red hot form. Pep Guardiola’s team look to be mounting a significantly better title challenge than they managed during the Spanish manager’s first season in the Premier League and their comfortable win at Stamford Bridge was a clear message to the home side that considerable improvement will be required if they are to retain their Champions status.
But rather than panicking about the defeat and falling six points behind both Manchester clubs in the league table, Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has played down the result insisting it is still early days. Speaking to Chelsea’s official website, the Spaniard said:
“This time last year we were eight points behind, but it doesn’t mean anything. There is still a long way to go in all competitions.”
The comparison Fabregas makes with last season is a valid one considering Chelsea’s current league record is identical to the one they managed in the 2016/17 campaign. Of course, Conte and his players went on to lift the Premier League last year after winning four, drawing one and losing two of their opening seven games.
Despite the sombre mood following the 1-0 loss to City on Saturday, Chelsea still had a relatively successful week from what always looked likely to be a tough string of fixtures. Fabregas was eager to also point that out.
“The truth is we knew it would be a difficult week, starting with the trip to Stoke last Saturday which as we know is always a complicated task.”
“Then there was the trip to Atletico Madrid, arriving back early the next morning at 5am on Thursday, with practically only one day to prepare for the match. We faced a City team who came well prepared. They had home games and one extra day of rest. We are making no excuses but it was a difficult week and we have competed. We gave it everything and could not have done anything more.”
Chelsea managed impressive victories over both Stoke and Atletico Madrid meaning the Blues have a fantastic away record so far this season. Both league losses have come at home as earlier mentioned, while the draw was a goalless game against Arsenal which also took place at Stamford Bridge.
However, rather than questioning why Chelsea appear to be struggling at home this season, Fabregas insists the only significant explanation for the lacklustre display against City was down to fatigue and a lack of preparation time.
“They are a great team. We know that. They had won their last two games, much in the same manner that we did, so congratulations to them.”
Fabregas’s comments echo the thoughts of Antonio Conte who was also unhappy with the tight fixture scheduling ahead of the important clash with City. But with several Champions League group games still to play, Chelsea will need to step up and prove they have the stamina and squad depth to compete on multiple fronts this season.
Having managed that impressive win against Atletico last Wednesday, the Blues will no doubt look to get their Champions League qualification from the group stage into the knockout rounds confirmed sooner rather than later, in order to ease pressure and enable a greater amount of rotation in future games.