Antonio Conte has explained why he broke up his favoured XI at the weekend to include Cesc Fabregas.
The Chelsea manager opted to drop Nemanja Matic and bring in the Spanish World Cup winner for the visit of Swansea to Stamford Bridge.
It paid off, with Fabregas – making his 300th Premier League appearance – scoring one and setting up another in a 3-1 with for the Blues.
Conte explained afterwards that, aware that Swansea play a compact game, Fabregas’ superior passing ability was the reason for the change.
‘Swansea play very, very compact,’ Conte told Chelsea’s official website.
‘Probably in this game it was difficult to find the space to play between the lines. I’m very happy, for Cesc, but also Nemanja.
‘When I called him to play off the bench, he played really well. N’Golo is playing fantastic. This is why we are top of the league – all my players are playing very, very well.’
The lack of starts for Fabregas this season has led to speculation that the former Arsenal player will look to move on. The game against Swansea was just the sixth time this season the 29-year-old had been named in the starting line-up. But despite concerns of upsetting his players, Conte has hinted he will continue to rotate his players.
‘For me, it’s always difficult to make these decisions. But I have to do this. Sometimes I make a mistake, but I try to do the best for the team because I want to win.
‘Against Swansea I decided to start with Cesc, but don’t forget Matic is playing a fantastic championship, Kante the same.
‘We must continue in this way. Our target is more important than a single player.’
West Ham (A) – Mon 6 Mar
Manchester Utd – FA Cup (H) – Mon 13 Mar
Stoke (A) – Sat 18 Mar
Crystal Palace (H) – Sat 1 Apr
Manchester City (H) – Wed 5 Apr
Bournemouth (A) – Sat 8 Apr
Manchester United (A) – Sat 15 Apr
The victory for Chelsea sees them sitting 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League table with 12 games remaining.