Chelsea’s facile 3-0 victory over Arsenal no doubt warmed the cockles of the hearts of Blues supporters the world over.
The sight of Michy Batsuayai netting a brace would have been particularly encouraging given the question marks that surround Chelsea’s strike force for next season. One man that seems more than aware of the pressure on the Pensioners’ chief goal-getters is Cesc Fabregas.
Signing Alvaro Morata has understandably been widely welcomed. The Spaniard has shown glimpses of his quality during cameo roles for Real Madrid but whether the 24-year-old can bear the pressure of being a title contender’s chief goal-scorer for an entire season remains to be seen. His likely ascension to that role is based on the assumption that Diego Costa’s departure from the club is imminent, evidenced by his remaining at home while the team complete their pre-season fixtures in the Far East.
Fabregas is fortunate enough to have experience playing alongside Morata with the Spanish national team and is excited to tog out beside him, but donning Chelsea blue this time.
Speaking to Chelseafc.com, the former Arsenal man said:
“I’ve played with Alvaro and I’ve always had a good understanding with him. He is a striker who has a lot of potential.”
Praise was not specifically reserved for the Spaniard however, as Fabregas was at pains to point out the potential of Batshuayi as well.
“It’s up to them how far they want to go.
“They are two young strikers who will have to improve as quickly as possible because they are our main strikers and if you are the main strikers for Chelsea, who want to fight for all of the competitions, you need to score a lot of goals.
“They will be under pressure. If you are a striker of a big team that’s what you live with and they will have to cope with it.”
Next season, of course, poses a very different set of problems for Chelsea given that they will be competing in Europe as well as in the Premier League, and Fabregas is more than aware of the strain such fixtures will place on the squad.
“Last season, because of the schedule, with no Champions League and the fact we went out early in the League Cup, we were fit for most of the season and had most of the midweeks off.”
While the signings of Antonio Rudiger, Morata and Tiemoué Bakayoko have, of course, been positive for Chelsea, recent weeks have also seen Chelsea bid adieu to Nathan Aké, Kurt Zouma and Ruben Loftus-Cheek among others.
Allied to that are the expected departures of Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa, which leaves Conte’s squad looking hardly more substantial than it did at the start of last season.
Should they fail to attract additional players in the coming weeks, Fabregas’ assumption that he will see more game time next season may prove even more prophetic than he had anticipated.
Colm Egan, Pundit Arena