Tag Archives: Cesc Fàbregas

Unai Emery to “get the band back together”

Good morning and Happy New Year to you all.

Not only are we in a New Year; but it is also the opening day of the January transfer window, and clubs can negotiate free transfer deals with players abroad.

So who could Arsenal look to sign?

Starting in La Liga, Santi Cazorla‘s one year deal with Villarreal is set to come to an end. Pairing him with Lucas Torreira would be brilliant in 5-a-side if we could find another couple of midgets to join them.

The Secret Billionaire Mathieu Flamini will also see his one year deal with Getafe come to an end. It will be the 6th time in his career the Frenchman has moved clubs. His career combined transfer fees is exactly ZERO.

Arsenal could reinforce their defence for free in the summer if they sign Barcelona centre back Thomas Vermaelen. Laurent Koscielny and Vernaeken at the back together. The Achilles Brothers.

We then have Johann Djourou. The Swiss centre back will be 32 in January. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Fellow Swiss defender’s Phillippe Senderos is curreenlty a free agent. His contract with MLS side Houston Dynamo expired last night.

There is only one man who deserves to partner Flamini in the middle of the park. His former partner in crime Cesc Fabregas. Also Unai Emery should give the prodigal son the captains armband.

Making it a midfield trio is Lassana Diarra. The midfielder somehow found his way at PSG; despite causing trouble everywhere he went. Having signed him a year ago, I am sure Emery will be delighted to link up with him once more.

One player available already is Alex Hleb. His contract expired on New Year’s Eve. Although he is likely to sign an extension with BATE Borisov before facing Arsenal in the Europa League.

Every team needs a top striker. Back a year ago Chelsea handed Olivier Giroud an 18-month deal. Could the French World Cup winner be set for an Arsenal return?

And sometimes there are two top strikers available – jailbird Nicklas Bendtner‘s contract with Rosenborg expired yesterday meaning he is available on a free TODAY.

Sadly, to complete the XI we need a goal keeper, and despite extensive scouting, it seems non are available on a free. As David Ospina is currently not playing for the club, we will take an advantage of a loophole known as the Ospina Rule and he will be between the sticks.

What an XI we could have…

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Out with the old, in with the new

March 2006, Arsenal v Juventus in the Champions League. ‘The King is Dead! Long Live the King!’ was the first line of the match report as an 18-year Cesc Fabregas dominated a 29-year old Patrick Vieira in the middle of the park.

This Champions League tussle had gone worse than Vieira could ever have anticipated. Humiliated by his old side, booed by his old fans, the Juventus player’s performance had gone some way to vindicating Arsene Wenger’s decision last summer to say a sad farewell.

You know you’ve been slow to react when Robert Pires, not exactly known for his tackling, pinches the ball from behind with a neat sliding challenge. That ignomy befell Vieira on the halfway line just before half-time and if that made him feel bad what happened next would only have made things much worse. The resulting move was both simple and devastating. Pires to Thierry Henry, Henry to Fabregas.

The 18 year-old slipped the ball confidently past the stranded Gianluigi Buffon before ecstatically wheeling away to salute the West Stand. Over on the other side of the pitch Vieira stood motionless.

The match not only justified Wenger’s decision to finally allow Vieira to leave after about 5 years of flirting with Real Madrid – the Frenchman was a shadow of his former self; but also vindicated his decision to replace him with a teenage Spaniard.

Not content with just a goal that night, Cesc also added an assist as he dominated the midfield.

Fabregas, by this stage, was totally bossing the match, linking up constantly with Henry in the attacking third. It was beautiful to watch: two world-class talents in riveting form.

The promise soon turned into something solid, something wonderfully inventive when Fabregas embarked on yet another burst into the box. Once Alexander Hleb had spotted the run, the result was almost a foregone conclusion. Drawing Buffon and two grasping defenders, the composed teenager slipped the ball sideways to the waiting Henry. Goal number two and a very useful cushion to take to Turin.

Now Jack Wilshere was certainly no Patrick Vieira. Not even close, and Matteo Guendouzi is some way off 18-year old Cesc Fabregas – but then has any teenage central midfielder ever done what he has done? but the comparison is clear and obvious.

In the summer, 26-year old Wilshere decided to call time on his Arsenal career as Arsenal failed to meet his terms. The Englishman had been beset with injuries for years, and like with Vieira, many felt it was time for him to leave.

Joining the club was 18-year old Guendouzi from Lorient in the French second division. Not really seen as a replacement for Wilshere, a few good performances in pre-season pushed him up the pecking order to the point where he started against both Manchester City and Chelsea – games Wilshere would have been in the starting XI for.

Guendouzi has quickly become a fans favourite and against West Ham will face the old Prince of Highbury, Wilshere.

Wilshere has already spoken about how he has a point to prove that Arsenal were wrong to get rid of him. Interesting use of language there that the Englishman sees him leaving on a free transfer as Arsenal’s decision, not his.

Young Guendouzi, meanwhile, will be motivated to show that Arsenal were correct in letting Wilshere leave, and looking at younger, fitter players.

Since he joined the club, Arsenal have released Josh Dasilva to Brentford.

Dasilva was rated highly by many of those that had seen him, but he is 6 months older than Guendouzi, who is clearly ahead of him in the pecking order.

Like with Fabregas, it is easy to forget that Guendouzi is barely an adult. He only turned 18-years old in April this year.

Against West Ham, and against Wilshere, he will have a chance to have his Fabregas moment. To show that he is better than the man he replaced.

Like Vieira defined the beginning of the Arsene Wenger era, Guendouzi  could be the man to kick start the Unai Emery years.

Keenos

Arsenal’s underachievers to be reunited

September 2007, Arsenal had just completed their first season at the new ground. Thierry Henry had just left for Barcelona. Freddie Ljungberg to West Ham. A year earlier Dennis Bergkamp had retired, Robert Pires was released, Sol Campbell, Lauren and Ashley Cole sold. The invincible’s were no more.

Stan Kroenke was seizing full control, but Arsenal were struggling financially.

Alisher Usmanov had bought out David Dein a month earlier. He came with a promise of Roman Abramovich style spending.

With the transfer window slamming shut, with Arsenal having signed Lukas Fabianski, Eduardo, Bacary Sagna and Lassana Diarra, Arsene Wenger uttered the immortal words:

“We don’t sign superstars, we make them”.

That season, a team was being built around a 20-year-old Cesc Fabregas. Alongside him in midfield was 23 year-old-Frenchman Mathieu Flamini. The squad was filled with players under the age of 25.

Robin van Persie (24), Gael Clichy (22), Sagna (24), Emmanuel Adebayor (23), Nicklas Bendtner (19), Theo Walcott (18), Emmanuel Eboue (24), Alex Song (20), Denilson (19), Eduardo (24), Diarra (22), Philippe Senderos (22) & Abou Diaby (21) represented one of the best young squads in England.

They were supplemented with the experience of William Gallas, Kolo Toure, Gilberto Silva, Alex Hleb and Tomas Rosicky.

The plan was obvious.

Bringing through so many young players at the same time would bread success in the future. It might not be in the first year, but as time went on, they would progress and improve as a team until they became champions – a bit like Manchester United’s class of ’92.

With Henry gone, we saw the greater good of the collective as 16 different goal scorers and togetherness made Arsenal contenders.

A strong start to the season saw Arsenal top the league table by September. It was not until December did the team lose in the league for the first time, away at Middlesbrough.

It was at the turn of the year that things went down hill.

Thrashed by Spurs 5-1 in the League Cup semi-final in January and knocked out of the FA Cup in mid-February 4-0 clearly rattled the emotionally inexperienced side.

7 days after that defeat against Manchester United, Arsenal travelled to Birmingham. A trip that would begin our downfall.

A career-threatening injury to Eduardo against Birmingham City followed up by Birmingham equalising from the penalty spot in the 95th minute – which was never a penalty coincided with the team going on a run of four draws in the Premier League.

Club captain William Gallas sat sulking in the centre circle whilst the penalty was taken, a show of petulance from the senior professional that was supposed to guide his young team mates.

Just 1 win in the next 8 games saw Manchester United soon overtook them Arsenal. Defeat to Chelsea in March moved Arsenal down in third place, where they remained at the end of the season. The spell also saw Arsenal go out of the Champions League at the quarter final stage to Liverpool.

Arsenal finished just 4 points behind eventual winners Manchester United. It was probably the last time we truly challenged for the league title,

Despite the disappointment of finishing the season without a trophy, there was plenty of be excited.

Here was a team of young players challenging for the title before their time. The project was clear and obvious. If we could keep this talented group of youths together, it was only a matter of time before they became champions.

Sadly the 2007/08 season would be this squads high point and Arsenal would not finish the next 7 seasons above 3rd.

First Flamini then Hleb, followed by Adebayor and Toure to the nouveau riche Manchester City. They were followed by Senderos, Gallas and Eduardo.

The dagger was put through the heart of the talented squad in 2011 when Samir Nasri (who signed in 2008) & Clichy joined Manchester City. Cesc went to Barcelona and Eboue to Galatasaray. That season Arsenal would be defeated by Birmingham City in the League Cup.

The departure of Robin van Persie and Alex Song within 3 days during the summer of 2012 left just Tomas Rosicky from what should have been a golden generation of Arsenal players.

And it is the Czech Mozart that sees many of the squad reunited on the 9th June for his testimonial at Prague’s Letna Stadium.

Fabregas and Kieran Gibbs, Flamini and Hleb, and Robin van Persie have already been named in a Czech Legends v Rest of the World match. Petr Cech is set to play for the Czech’s.

More players are still to be announced, and I imagine more will be from that underachieving squad that came together in 2008.

We were so close to create a team of stars. Up against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea who were buying stars. Rosicky never quite stayed fit enough to be a big enough influence within the squad.

Who knows what we would have achieved had he been able to stay fit?

Keenos