Cesc Fabregas has predictably named Eden Hazard as the man who can make the difference for Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester United.
Hazard has been heavily marked by United since Jose Mourinho’s move to Old Trafford, the former Blues boss clearly determined to nullify the threat of the Belgium playmaker as a priority.
“He’s a fantastic player. When he’s on his day he can be unstoppable,” said Fabregas of Hazard.
“We have to make sure we give him the right service so he can work his magic and give us a good performance, because we will need that.”
Fabregas’ guile will be key to getting the best out of Hazard, who this week told of his desire for Chelsea to add talent to the squad before he is prepared to sign a contract extension.
Hazard, who is seeking a first FA Cup winners’ medal, is not the only member of the Chelsea camp whose future is in doubt.
Speculation is rife the Wembley date will be Antonio Conte’s last after two years as head coach, while Thibaut Courtois has 12 months of his deal remaining and Chelsea could cash in on the goalkeeper if he does not renew, or risk losing him for nothing in June 2019.
Fabregas’ contract also runs until June 2019 and he is now over 30, so the Blues’ recent policy of 12-month extensions applies.
The 31-year-old Spain midfielder won the FA Cup in 2005 with Arsenal, who beat the Blues in last year’s final, denying Conte the double in his first season in charge.
Fabregas still hurting from Arsenal defeat 12 months ago
Fabregas hopes to avoid a repeat, admitting the loss to the Gunners still rankles.
“You don’t want to be on the back of losing two FA Cup finals in a row,” Fabregas added.
“Last year we didn’t play well. Arsenal were on top of us and I think they deserved to win.
“It would’ve been a fantastic season winning the double. We have this regret in our head and we want to make it right this time for sure.”
United finished second in the Premier League, Chelsea fifth, but neither convinced consistently. Mourinho’s tactics were questioned, while Chelsea’s league season concluded with a listless 3-0 loss at Newcastle.
Fabregas dismissed the idea of favourites and underdogs, while also saying the result matters more than the style of performance.
“I promise you, since early in my career I never believed in favourites,” the former Barcelona midfielder added.
“Last year everybody was thinking we’d beat Arsenal, we didn’t. If they (United) want to be favourites, for me it means nothing.
“As much as we talk about the beautiful game, which I love, nowadays it’s about winning on the day.
“People then forget if you did it in a good way, if you did it in a lucky way, a defensive way. People forget about this unfortunately.
“These are the games I love playing football for. The big stage, everyone’s watching, two fantastic teams, two fantastic clubs, two fantastic fans, so it will be a fantastic game and hopefully Chelsea will win.”
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