Cesc Fabregas epitomises Chelsea's fall from grace

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Jose Mourinho's Chelsea have made the worst start to a title-defending campaign since Blackburn Rovers in 1995/96, and find themselves in 17th after their first five matches.

And whilst goals haven't necessarily been the issue for the Blues, it's their defensive record that lets them down, having conceded an unprecedented 12 goals - matched by only three teams in the English leagues.

Chelsea's defence looks vulnerable with there a significant lack of communication between the back line and midfield. Anchor-man Nemanja Matic is often left stranded in the heart of their midfield when defending, with Cesc Fabregas a peripheral figure of late, rendering Mourinho's back line exposed.


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There are multiple players in the side that have been underperforming and uninspiring this season, with Eden Hazard one of such figures, but someone that sums up Stamford Bridge's struggles is the aforementioned Fabregas.

After his arrival from Barcelona last summer, Fabregas showcased his Premier League experience and hit the ground running. Chelsea had their struggles over the course of the season, even despite their emphatic start, but Fabregas was consistent throughout with his chance creation and ability to dictate the tempo of a game, racking up 18 assists in the process.

This season is a much different story for the Spaniard. The 28-year-old looks lost in midfield and his lack of confidence has translated into his passing ability. After just four starts last reason, Fabregas had created sixteen chances.

We have now passed match day five, and the former Arsenal man has created only eight chances - zero of those eight have been scored.

The fact that he has a zero assists is not his own fault, of course, but the fact that he's averaging 1.6 key passes per game means that mathematically there is less chance that someone will convert his passes, compared to the four-chances-per-game that he was creating last season for his attacking team-mates.

If Fabregas is unable to pass his way through a team, he will have to do a lot more defending than usual. He is not a defensive midfielder, though, and therefore cannot be depended on to consistently make tackles and protect the back four. Matic is the complete opposite, but if Fabregas and Matic are playing in a midfield two there is no balance. 

What needs to be changed is the positioning of the midfielders within the Chelsea team. If Fabregas is played further forward there are less questions asked of his defensive qualities, and then Mourinho can play someone more fitting in the role alongside the Serbian Matic.

The problem, though, is that Chelsea do not have another defensive midfielder for that role. Ramires could be used as a box-to-box midfielder alongside the disciplined Matic, but his inclining to join attacks could again leave Matic exposed on the counter.

Another option could be to play a midfield three, altering Mourinho's formation to 4-3-3 as opposed to his favoured 4-2-3-1, though his could prove too drastic a transition for his players.

One thing is for sure - Fabregas cannot play the defensive midfielder role. The Spaniard thrives upon intricate passing and players moving around him - something that the no.10 role could offer - but in a deeper lying role it just doesn't appear to be working for him, with his confidence taking a hit with every misplaced pass.

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