Cesc Fabregas didn't have a 'special motivation' for the Arsenal match - he has one against Arsene Wenger for the whole of the season

Chelsea maestro is proving what a big mistake Arsene Wenger made

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The Independent Football

In his first match against his former club, Cesc Fabregas was booed by a large section of Arsenal fans at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea’s midfield maestro dominated talk in the run up the game: should Arsene Wenger have signed him when it was clear he was leaving Barcelona; would he perform against his former club; would Wenger regret not signing the Spaniard after the London derby had finished.

The answer to those questions is yes, yes and yes.

Fabregas picked up the man of the match award in a dominant performance at Stamford Bridge and though Eden Hazard was perhaps a more worthy recipient of that accolade, Fabregas was hugely impressive and again the catalyst for a fantastic Chelsea performance.

Since arriving in west London the 27-year-old has revolutionised Jose Mourinho’s Blues from a defensive juggernaut incapable of breaking down teams who set out to defend, to one that can pick apart those lesser teams as well as mix it with the very best.

Chelsea had an easy start to the season and looked imperious but were somewhat written off because of the quality of their opposition. But that argument no longer holds water as they have now performed away at Manchester City and at home to Arsenal, picking up four points and never looking in any danger of losing either match. Chelsea probably should have won at City but it was by no means a bad result in the grand scheme of a 38-game Premier League season.

Wenger admitted ahead of the match that he could have signed Fabregas this summer but didn’t want to, as he had Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla. Fabregas as he proved in a deep-lying role on Sunday didn’t need to replace any of those – he should have replaced declining club captain Mikel Arteta. Three of those [Ozil, Wilshere and Cazorla] started on Sunday and they were all thoroughly outplayed by the former Gunner.

Not only did Fabregas perform the decisive moment, with another contender for pass of the season, but the maestro, alongside the powerful elegance of Nemanja Matic, had Arsenal exactly where he wanted them for almost the full 90 minutes.

Arsenal had periods when they were on top but Chelsea were never really concerned. Jose Mourinho was always going to sit deep and allow Arsenal to attack before hitting them on the counter, so sustained periods of pressure from the away team were expected, and indeed what Chelsea wanted.

That Arsenal failed to register a shot on target tells its own story; the only moment of worry for Chelsea came when Jack Wilshere failed to control with his right foot, allowing Petr Cech to collect the ball from the England man’s feet.

Fabregas completed 69 passes just shy of 90 per cent accuracy (88.4%), made 13 recoveries, four tackles, created three chances and got that Costa assist, his seventh of the season. Staggeringly, those assists equal the amount Arsenal have managed to create this whole season.

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Nemanja Matic is the perfect partner for Fabregas

Chelsea, traditionally a 'defensive' team already have 16 this season, while his seven assists equal the team-leading total Eden Hazard got for the Blues during the whole of last season – a stark and easy indicator to the impact Fabregas has had on Chelsea.

Despite all this extra attacking intent, Chelsea haven’t lost their identity and are the best defensive team in the league.

Alongside Manchester City their squad has unmatched strength (and Chelsea may even shade them in that department). When a first choice goalkeeper goes off injured in the first half it would spell fear for 19 other managers in the Premier League – Mourinho can call on Petr Cech, a goalkeeper who would likely start for at least 17 of those 19 clubs.

John Terry and Gary Cahill are the best centre-back partnership in the division, while Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta may be the best full-back pairing; Champions League winner and Ashley Cole replacement Filipe Luis can’t get a look in because of their form.

In Nemanja Matic, Fabregas has the perfect midfield partner. The Serbian is a man mountain, hugely intelligent in and out of possession and an impressive technician in his own right. Fabregas knows he can trust the 6ft 4in man mountain not only to provide defensive cover, but to help him dictate the opposition to their will.

Fabregas was booed near every time he touched the ball – though he did receive applause from some sections of the away support – but he never let it affect him for a second of the 90 minutes.

In his post-match interview Fabregas said: "I have huge respect for Arsenal, they gave me everything when I was little."

"Without Arsenal I would not have won the things I have won and I understand the fans' reaction. I know the fans love me. I’m not scared, they will be in my heart for ever. But now I’m at this fantastic club, playing with great players, with a great coach and great fans."

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Wenger and Mourinho clashed on the sidelines

Mourinho said that Fabregas didn't have any "special motivation" for this match as he had been performing brilliantly all season. "He's been doing this from day one. He's unbelievable. He showed he is very special and showed the professional he is," he said.

"To play against the team where he was made for football shows his commitment to us even more, as well as his professionalism."

Mourinho is right, Fabregas didn’t have a special motivation for this match; he has it for the whole season. What is making the Spaniard so good this season is that he wanted to return to Arsenal in the summer

After Wenger’s snub Fabregas is desperate to show his former manager just how wrong he got it.

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