Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has defended the recent form of Cesc Fabregas, insisting that he remains a key part of his team despite the Spaniard's recent performances.
The former Arsenal midfielder was the quickest player in Premier League history to 15 assists this season, but has registered just one in his last 13 games.
Despite his lack of output, Fabregas played a vital role in Chelsea's win over Stoke on Saturday, winning the penalty that Eden Hazard opened the scoring with.
Jose Mourinho's side went on to bag a 2-1 win thanks to Loic Remy's strike after Charlie Adam had scored a 60-yard wondergoal in the first half, and now Jose Mourinho's men are now seven points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand.
Mourinho says that Fabregas remains a key part of his team gong into their final eight games of the season, and believes he'll get back to his best before the end of the campaign.
"When some people write that Fabregas has dropped his level because the number of assists are not the same, the number of assists are probably not the same because the player that he assists doesn't score," the Special One explained.
"I think he's playing wonderfully well for us. I've never had doubts about his importance for us in the team."
Chelsea were further boosted in their pursuit of their first Premier League crown since 2010 after Manchester City stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last night. Their nearest rivals are now Arsenal who destroyed Liverpool in a 4-1 victory on Saturday.
There's no doubt that Fabregas has stuttered in the second half of the season. Where he was once a certainty for the player of the year, he's faded so badly that he's no longer even in contention.
However, it's all too easy and convenient to pin Chelsea's struggles as a whole on him. The former Barcelona man is a classy operator but can only do his job if those around him are on song too, and collectively Jose Mourinho's men have looked jaded of late.