Cesc Fabregas is putting together a truly memorable season in the blue of Chelsea.
The Spanish midfielder who arrived from Barcelona has transformed the way Jose Mourinho's team play, controlling the tempo of nearly every match he plays in and giving Chelsea a razor-sharp attacking threat.
So good is Fabregas at creating chances that the goal he provided for John Terry last night in the 2-0 victory at Stoke was his 12th of the season - just one fewer than Steven Gerrard, who led the Premier League, managed in the whole of last season.
Fabregas has reached 12 assists in just 16 matches, while Gerrard needed 34 starts to reach 14.
If he continues at his current pace he is on pace to set the single-season record for assists in the Premier League, a tally set at 20 that is jointly held by Fabregas (at Arsenal in 2007-08) and former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry in 2002-03.
Stoke City vs Chelsea player ratings
Stoke City vs Chelsea player ratings
1/22 Stoke: Asmir Begovic
Couldn’t get near either goal, but made a fine stop from Costa late on. 6/10
2/22 Phil Bardsley
Lucky to stay to stay on the pitch after wild lunge on Hazard only drew yellow. 5
3/22 Ryan Shawcross
Frustrated by the movement of Diego Costa all evening. 5
4/22 Marc Muniesa
Like Shawcross, Costa’s movement and Fabregas’s passing flummoxed him. 5
5/22 Erik Pieters
Offered an attacking outlet for Stoke but his final ball often let him down. 6
6/22 Geoff Cameron
Lost John Terry for the goal, and struggled to get into the game. 5
7/22 Steven N'zonzi
Often overrun by Matic and Mikel in the middle. 4
8/22 Jon Walters
Could never quite get a foothold in the game. 5
9/22 Bojan Krkic
The former Barcelona man showed trickery at times, but lacked incision. 6
10/22 Patrick Arnautovic
Offered some invention down the left wing. 5
11/22 Peter Crouch
Shackled with ease by Terry and Cahill. 4
12/22 Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois
Great reactions to deny deflected N'Zonzi strike and quick off his line to cut out high balls. Rarely challenged. 6/10
13/22 Branislav Ivanovic
Inclined to get forward in the first period as Cahill covered his right flank. Not as watertight as Azpi and allowed Assaidi past him in the latert stages. 6
14/22 Gary Cahill
Cut off every supply route to Peter Crouch, dominant in the air and on the deck as the Blues closed out their hosts. 7
15/22 John Terry
Shook off his marker to head Fabregas's corner home for his first goal of the season. Resolute at the back as Stoke were limited to half chances. 7
16/22 Cesar Azpilicueta
Blocking Stoke attempts down the right as they went in search of a point at 1-0. Successful with every challenge. 7
17/22 Jon Obi Mikel
Made some important interventions and looked composed on the ball. Guilty of a few wayward passes. 6
18/22 Nemanja Matic
Provided a great defensive shield - constantly snuffing out Stoke attacks. Fine tackle from the Serbian turned defence into attack but Costa fluffed one-on-one. 8
Was wasteful and struggled to make his mark before being taken off for Andre Schurrle late on. Schurrle made more of an impact in 15 minutes. 6
20/22 Cesc Fabregas
Chalked up his 12th assist of the season and should have had more but for team-mates' poor finishing. Great tracking back to cut out Bardsley and capped fine showing with Chelsea's second. 8
21/22 Eden Hazard
Tireless running at the Stoke defence down the left. Enjoyed a hard-fought battle with Phil Bardsley and set up Fabregas for the second. 7
22/22 Diego Costa
A frustrated forward waiting for his break. Flashed at a shot before steering wide when one-on-one. Denied by Begovic after receiving Schurrle's pass late on. 6
Jose Mourinho has never not won the title when he has been top at Christmas, and should Fabregas continue in his current vein of form, then Chelsea will surely add another Premier League trophy - and perhaps more - to their cabinet.
Arsenal had the chance to sign Fabregas in the summer, but Arsene Wenger rejected the chance because he had the central midfield position "well covered" with the likes of Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini.
Look away now, Arsenal fans.
Fabregas' assist total is more than all of those eight players combined so far this season. Some of those players have been injured for large parts of the campaign so far but those eight have registered just nine assists between then, three fewer than the former Arsenal captain.
Only by adding in star man Alexis Sanchez, who has played on the wing and has five assists and nine goals in a brilliant first campaign in England, do Arsenal take their total above the Spaniard.
Chelsea are currently 15 points ahead of their London rivals, and one could easily make the case that Cesc Fabregas is the main reason.
MOST ASSISTS BY SEASON
2014-2015 - Fabregas - 12
13-14 - Steven Gerrard - 13
12-13 - Juan Mata - 12
11-12 - David Silva - 15
10-11 - Luis Nani - 14
09-10 - Frank Lampard - 14
08-09 - Lampard - 10
07-08 - Fabregas - 20
06-07 - Cristiano Ronaldo - 14
05-06 - Didier Drogba - 11
04-05 - Frank Lampard - 18
03-04 - Muzzy Izzet - 13
02-03 - Thierry Henry - 20
01-02 - Robert Pires - 15
00-01 - David Beckham - 15
MOST ASSISTS IN PREMIER LEAGUE HISTORY
1) Ryan Giggs - 131
2) Steven Gerrard - 100
3) Frank Lampard - 96
4) Wayne Rooney - 92
5) Cesc Fabregas - 83Reuse content