Tag Archives: Cesc Fàbregas

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.



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?


Chelsea Result, Refereeing Standard, Fabregas v Gibbs & Marcus Alonso

Chelsea Result

2-2 was a fair result.

Both sides had their chances.

Both sides showed why they are so far behind Manchester City.

Personally I was non-pulsed about the result.

Some will say that the draw will mean that if Spurs win tonight, we are cut adrift in the race for the top 4 – 5 points behind Liverpool in 4th and 4 points behind Spurs in 5th, but I honestly do not care about top 4.

I would rather win trophies, then finish top 4 and celebrate the mythical Top 4 trophy.

Previously I have discussed about how opinions changed. From 2006 – 2013, Arsenal were heavily criticised for finishing top 4 but not winning trophies. Now we are criticised for winning trophies and not finishing top 4.

I would happily finish in 6th place if it means more silverware.

As I explained last night to a few people, in 1993, does anyone care that we finished 10th? Was it deemded an unsuccessful season for George Graham, finishing mid table but winning 2 trophies?

No it was not. So why now would it be seen as a failure if we finish 6th and win some silverware.

Ultimately football is about winning trophies.

It is more important to win the League Cup then finish 2nd in the league.

Refereeing Standard

Arsene Wenger has been charged by the FA for daring to criticise the decision of Mike Dean to award a non-existent penalty. It shows how arrogant the FA are that the man who gave an opinion that everyone agrees with is charged, whilst the man who made the mistake gets no punishment.

This season we have had a lot of decisions go against us.

The twitter above estimates that the decisions that have gone against us have cost 15 points. Last night was another game when a non-existent penalty was given, causing us to concede and equaliser.

When you look at Spurs, their offside goals, the dodgy penalties, the players making leg breaking challenges, not being sent off and then not having retrospective action against them, you can’t help but start to believe the conspiracy theories.

It might not be deliberate, but in the subconscious of referees, they see Spurs as the good guys of English football, the saviours, whilst we are the opposite.

I am not a fan of VAR. But as more and more obvious decisions go against us, I being leaning towards it.

It is an undeniable fact that refereeing decisions have cost us points this season. And Wenger is charged for pointing out the poor decisions.

Fabregas v Gibbs

2 days ago, I wrote a blog about how I was booing Kieran Gibbs. Just for a bit of a laugh, and for that blog I got hammered for – which was probably also justifiable.

I also note the lady in question who I was winding up also tweeted. Interesting how quick she went from people infront of me were booing to no one was booing infront of me. Cowardness.

Just to clarify a point, some people decided to pick up on a single point of that blog, that I was saying if you are not from Islington, you are not a real fan. Clearly I was not saying this, and it just shows that there are some people out their with an agenda against me who decided to twist what I was saying to just criticise.

Also interesting was a lad from Australia who said my blog was racist. Odd little blog, probably never been to a game, you are the fan I despise. Why not support a team in Melbourne? A local team. Back them?

Anyway, I digressed a little. Sorry about that.

Yesterday fans cheered and clapped Cesc Fabregas.

So I get criticised for booing a former player, and probably some of them same fans then cheers Fabregas.

Yes, Cesc was a former player, and former captain – and the best young player I have watched – but he turned into a petulant little twat who refused to play for us and decided to go to the Spanish Grand Prix rather than have the decency to turn up to the last game of the season and thank the fans for their support.

He does not deserve our applause. A club with fans with more balls would have booed his every touch. But our newer fan base, the middle class happy clappy post-Euro 96 fans simply have no idea.

If you applauded Fabregas yesterday, you are a bit of a mug.

Marcus Alonso

No amount of goals will make up for the fact that you killed a girl going 70 mph in a 30mph zone whilst drunk.