Fabregas’ Spot Still Not Guaranteed – Conte

Fabregas’ Spot Still Not Guaranteed – Conte


CONTEChelsea boss Antonio Conte praised two-goal Cesc Fabregas but insisted reputations mean nothing after their comeback victory at Leicester.

The Spain midfielder scored twice in extra time to cap the visitors’ recovery in the EFL Cup third round as they won 4-2, having fallen 2-0 down inside 35 minutes.

Fabregas is yet to start in the Premier League under Conte, with his only other start in the EFL Cup win over Bristol City last month, with Nemanja Matic, N’Golo Kante and Oscar preferred.

But a gritty display from the 29-year-old — ahead of Saturday’s visit to former club Arsenal — impressed Conte, although he offered no assurances he would start at the Emirates Stadium.

He said: “I want to win and my choice is done to win. I don’t care what their name is. For me it’s important when I call someone to play and they show me my choice is not wrong.

“All the players in my squad are a possibility to play against Arsenal. There are three days before the game and they have the opportunity to convince me to put them in.

“I am pleased for Cesc because he played a good game, he showed me great commitment in the training sessions. I am satisfied when I see this behaviour. This is the right way and I want my players to create good competition and, game by game, give me the opportunity to choose the best lineup.”

Chelsea were poor defensively as both Gary Cahill and David Luiz struggled, but the visitors deserved victory after Diego Costa was introduced as a second-half substitute.

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The striker should have scored in normal time but curled wide and was involved in the build-up to Fabregas’ first as well as being fouled by Marcin Wasilewski, who collected his second yellow.

Conte added: “This is a typical English game because after 30 minutes you are 2-0 down and then you have a good reaction to score four goals. If you ask me if I am happy for the two goals conceded, I am not happy, but I saw a good reaction from all of my players.

“This is very important because it showed the will to win and to go into the next round. It wasn’t easy after 2-0 and after a defeat in the last game in the Premier League [2-1 to Liverpool].”

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri, who made seven changes, was philosophical about the defeat, acknowledging Cahill’s goal just before half-time changed the game.

“I am happy with our performance until 2-0,” the former Chelsea manager said. “We started very well and we were in control of the match. Chelsea had more possession but we were very smart and clever to score twice.

“I think the key was when we conceded a goal on the last corner of the half, we lost two dangerous men, Luiz and Cahill.

“In extra time I said stay together and close the space, but Fabregas scored and it was very difficult for us.”