Here's your chance, Cesc
Fabregas needs to shine against Leicester to resurrect his Stamford Bridge career
LEICESTER v CHELSEA
(Tomorrow, 2.40am, Singtel TV Ch 109 - Eleven)
Cesc Fabregas has waded chest-deep into a quagmire he has never known.
He can't convince his Chelsea manager to play him.
He has been told by Antonio Conte to improve or continue to be left out.
Once one of the world's most creative sparks on a football pitch, he now finds himself regularly occupying a lonely spot on a crowded bench.
At 29, an age when footballers typically hit their peak, Fabregas' brilliance can't find an outlet.
His battle for a starting place is in danger of reaching a stalemate.
He needs to impress Conte soon, but to do that, he needs to first play.
A rare opportunity may present itself tomorrow morning (Singapore time), when the Blues travel to the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City in a League Cup third-round match.
The Spaniard has yet to start in the Premier League, restricted to three substitute appearances amounting to a measly total of 47 minutes.
His only start under Conte has came in the League Cup last month, when Chelsea overcame Bristol Rovers 3-2.
The Champions League nights with Barcelona and Premiership battles for Arsenal are distant memories for a man now shunted to the wilderness.
On a smaller stage in a competition often overlooked by the big teams, Fabregas will be hoping to at least get the chance to resurrect his career.
Conte's biggest complaint with the midfielder is his inability to properly execute his defensive duties.
The midfield maestro sways to a passionate flamenco beat. But the manager wants to him to also stop the opponent's dance.
Which is why in the centre of the park, he favours the sturdy midfield pairing of Nemanja Matic and N'Golo Kante.
In the No. 10 role behind the striker, his preference is with Brazilian Oscar, as he feels his all-round game is better suited to what he is trying to implement.
Reports suggest Italian Serie A clubs Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan are keeping tabs on the 2007/08 PFA Young Player of the Year.
But if Fabregas is not ready to accept defeat, then he must exhibit the fire required to turn things around.
He was as culpable as any of his teammates for Chelsea's nightmarish campaign last season, but there is still something to his attacking game that sheer grit and industry cannot replicate.
Even in his limited cameo appearances, the technically superb playmaker has caught the eye.
Last month, after replacing Matic in the 78th minute at Vicarage Road, he completed Chelsea's comeback 2-1 victory against Watford by producing a sublime defence-splitting ball for Diego Costa to score the winner.
In the next match against Swansea, his introduction in the 76th minute coincided with the turning of the tide in Chelsea's direction, as the Blues rescued a point nine minutes from time.
During the small window, he was arguably their best player, and created three goal-scoring chances - same as Oscar, who started the game.
When Chelsea last Friday stumbled to their first loss of the term, to Liverpool, he played just six minutes.
Kante's horrendous performance in that match, in which Chelsea's midfield were overrun, might have handed Fabregas a lifeline.
It's up to Fabregas to grab it.
Pep: Sane to get City start
Winger Leroy Sane is likely to make his first start for Manchester City in their League Cup game against Swansea City on Thursday morning (Singapore time), manager Pep Guardiola said.
The 20-year-old, who signed for City from Bundesliga side Schalke, has impressed in his two substitute appearances in the Premier League against Manchester United and Bournemouth after shrugging off an early hamstring injury.
"Leroy was ready to start this game (against Bournemouth) but I decided something different," Guardiola told the club's website.
"He came to us injured but he's been training with us for the past one or two weeks and he gets better every day.
"I know his quality but he needs minutes and he will get them in the next game." - Reuters.