Cesc Fabregas says Chelsea are seeking the right balance in the Carabao Cup by granting players opportunities while targeting the trophy.
Fabregas’ 41st-minute strike proved decisive in Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over a Derby side managed by Chelsea’s record goalscorer Frank Lampard.
The Spain playmaker won the League Cup with Chelsea in 2015 when a mainstay of Jose Mourinho’s first-choice line-up.
And, although he has fallen behind Jorginho in Maurizio Sarri’s pecking order, Fabregas wants to take his chances when he gets them, including in the League Cup.
“When I first started, Arsene (Wenger, then Arsenal boss) always gave young players a big chance in this competition, and that’s why you see a lot of young talent in it,” Fabregas, whose goal was his first of the season, said on chelseafc.com.
“And then when I first came here, with Jose, the first target was to win the League Cup.
“If you win a trophy in February it gives you a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, and I agree.
“You have to take it seriously, and it’s a good opportunity for the whole squad to compete.”
Two players who did little to press their claims for further action were Gary Cahill and Andreas Christensen, who were central figures in an all-round shaky defensive display by the Blues. Christensen was replaced by David Luiz in the second half.
Chelsea assistant boss Gianfranco Zola said: “I thought Gary and Christensen could have done better in the first half.
“Normally their distribution is better. That’s the complaint. But we’ll go through this.”
Chelsea, who face Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday, play at home to Bournemouth in the next round, in the week commencing December 17 – for a repeat of last season’s quarter-final.
One Blues youngster who did impress was 19-year-old Mason Mount, playing against his parent club for the Championship visitors.
Fikayo Tomori, another Blues loanee, responded well to his fifth-minute own goal, while Mount provided Derby’s second equaliser and might have scored himself late on.
A night which saw Lampard serenaded by all sides of Stamford Bridge and his assistant Jody Morris applauded too, was special for Mount.
He told Rams TV: “It was an unbelievable experience, to come here in front of all the fans.
“It was a special, special night for me, Fik, Jody and the gaffer.”
Championship duty is now Derby’s focus, with Birmingham the visitors to Pride Park on Saturday.
Lampard is determined his side take their cup form into the league, having lost at Bolton in the days after the third-round penalty shootout win at Manchester United.
He said: “We’re doing well. People are saying nice things about us. (But) that’s not important.
“Reaching a standard and improving on it is. After United, we lost to Bolton and didn’t really turn up. So let’s see how we react to Birmingham on Saturday.”