There was something so typical about Chelsea producing their best home performance of the season just days after arguably their worst display since Antonio Conte took charge at Stamford Bridge at the hands of Roma. But to some extent, putting it down to typical Chelsea would to be ignore how Conte improved the balance of his side in such a short space of time.
Of course, having N’Golo Kante back in the engine room was a massive boost for the Blues going into such a pivotal game. More than the Frenchman’s presence alone though, it was how his return allowed team-mate Cesc Fabregas to be fielded higher up the pitch that had the more instrumental impact on Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Manchester United.
Situated alongside Eden Hazard in the dual No.10 role just behind Alvaro Morata, the Spaniard’s concerning lack of defensive protection in central midfield was traded for his sheer quality, creativity and vision when freed up further forward. Indeed, Fabregas – who Transfermarkt value at £31.5million – created six chances, the most of any player on the pitch, and whipped five crosses into the box.
In addition to that attacking output, though, the 30-year-old was crucial to Chelsea keeping control of the ball. He made the most passes of any Blues player, completed two dribbles and perhaps most impressively considering how much he was involved, committed just a single unsuccessful touch before being subbed off in the 78th minute.
No player had a more significant impact on the match and what was a huge win for the Blues after that disappointing defeat to Roma, and Willian and Pedro will fear for their chances of reclaiming a role arguably more suited to them after such a pivotal display.