Cesc Fabregas exclusive: No crisis at Chelsea but concedes Premier League title hopes are over

The Blues midfielder believes that some of the criticism and speculation surrounding the manager's exit has been over-the-top

Cesc Fabregas has denied that Chelsea are in 'crisis' ahead of their Champions League clash with Barcelona, claiming his team-mates are ignoring the current negativity aimed towards the club.

Antonio Conte faced speculation that he was to lose his job following Chelsea's 4-1 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road earlier this month, days after losing 3-0 to Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge. 

However, despite that being just the latest week in a long line of rumours around the head coach's future, Fabregas believes that his side's season hasn't been that bad.

"I don't think so to be honest," Fabregas told  Goal  when he was asked whether the players have been affected. "I think we are all professional players. We are players that are used to the speculation and used to what is around us because we play for a big football club and there will always be rumours and things to be said.

"We just focus on football and our game. We are training very hard to achieve our targets, that's the objective. I don't really look or care or mind what is said about me anymore. Or what is said about the rest. When you look in football after scoring two goals you are the best and, if you lose, you become the worst.

"There's no middle point in football anymore - either you are the best or you are bad. We just really have to focus in our job, which is to try to be good every three days, compete well and then let the results talk.

"The new signings had to adapt to what the coach asks to us and it was not easy. For example, some players had to play many games, like N'Golo [Kante], myself or [Cesar] Azpilicueta maybe. We didn't have a lot of available players and we had to play more than what we should have.

"In that case, maybe we struggled a little bit this year but I think we played OK, maybe not at our maximum level, or the level we used to show last year but it is still a good season. We are in the FA Cup, we are in the last 16 in the Champions League, we are three points off Manchester United who are second in the Premier League. 

"We got to the semi-final of the Carabao Cup. When you look at it you can't say it is an average or bad season, it is a good season. But, of course, when you call it a good or bad season, it is in May when there are trophies to be won and see what you can achieve.

"We come from two difficult defeats against Watford and Bournemouth where we did struggle and we were not ourselves. We didn't play at the level required or the level we should have but apart from that we recovered well. We played well on Monday (3-0 home win over West Brom). We played a good game, we won.

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"The most important thing is the team plays well and grows again. That we get the confidence back because the next month and a half, two months, if you look at our calendar it is very tough and we will need every single player available."

Fabregas had struggled at this point last season under Conte, but this time round has been afforded more playing time following the club's return to the Champions League. He has already racked up an impressive 34 appearances despite having two short spells out injured. 

However, despite Fabregas's increased involvement, a second successive title looks to be out of the question, with the defending champions lagging 19 points behind leaders Manchester City.

"Let's not lie to ourselves, the title is gone, I don't know how many games are left but they are too many points on top. There's no way they [City] will lose six games and the rest of the teams win everything.

"I cannot see this happening, obviously you can't say never in football, and I hate to say that, but they are playing a fantastic season and it would be a miracle to catch them. For us the most important thing now is to reach the Champions League positions and we will go again in the Premier League.

"Then we still have two trophies that are very, very important to play for. That must be our aim for the season, to qualify for the Champions League and go for the two trophies we have left."

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However, Fabregas does not believe this season compares to 2015/16 when the then champions languished in the lower reaches of the table during the first half of the campaign and the Spaniard told Goal he 'forgot how to play football' .

"That probably was a comment that it was true that there was a moment that things were going so badly against us that you feel like you even forgot how to play.

"This maybe has been once in my life that this has happened, I said it in this way, maybe I exaggerated a little bit. The problem was in that moment when we had that interview we were maybe 16th or 17th! We just could not get a win, basically. It is frustrating the way it happened.

"It is all about experiences and how you cope with it. This season you cannot say it has been a bad season so far because there's still a lot to play for."