When opposition fans don’t want to play against you, it’s usually a compliment.
However, when it’s your own fans who’d rather your name wasn’t on the team sheet then you’ve got big problems, and that’s the situation Federico Fazio finds himself in following his summer arrival at Tottenham for £8m.
On his Premier League debut, Fazio was tormented by Sergio Aguero in a match which saw the forward score four, and have clear cut opportunities for at least another four.
His misery was ended after 66 minutes with the game in the balance at 2-1 (and should have been 2-2 if Sold-a-dud had scored his penalty!) when he was sent off for bringing Aguero down as the last man, giving away a penalty in the process.
A couple of weeks later, he was again sent off as he brough down Asteras Tripoli striker Barrales down for another penalty in the Europa League.
While his mistakes have not been exploited as obviously since, he has also ridden his luck in a number of games since, and was punished for it when Hazard robbed him in the late kick off on 1st January.
At 27, he’s not young enough to hide behind inexperience either.
At 6’5″ tall and over 13 stone in weight, Fazio relies in many instances on his brute force.
As a result his better performances have typically come against big, bruisy and aggressive centre forwards in teams playing primarily a route one game. Certainly his aerial dual statistics are pretty impressive.
However, he has a tendency to commit to winning the ball and Spurs have seen a number of occasions this season where he and Vertonghen both want to rush out and win the ball, but leave all sorts of space and trouble behind them.
It’s a scenario Arsenal fans will be familiar with, having seen the same occur on a number of occasions when Vermaelen and Koscielny were deployed as a pairing.
Fazio’s biggest issue is that he doesn’t seem to do any sort of risk-reward computation, instead favouring attacking the ball in every circumstance.
This presents a real opportunity for Arsenal to suck the Argentinian in towards Giroud before letting Ozil and Cazorla play in the likes of Walcott and Alexis to use their pace and canter in behind the Spurs defence.
It also means he has a propensity for giving away penalties and collecting cards, since he’s unable to resist putting in challenges no matter whether the player is going nowhere or he has no chance of winning the ball legally.
Then of course there is his liability on the ball.
He has a complete lack of composure born out of low concentration levels, and this means he is prone to either rushing his passing or sometimes getting caught on the ball, as he did for Chelsea’s second in the 5-3 on New Years Day.
None of this is new either – he was hit and miss in his time at Sevilla too.
Ultimately, consistency is key in your own half.
It’s why David James never hit the dizziest heights, since his mistakes were too frequent to be compensated by his best performances.
In reverse, it’s why Per Mertesacker has made over 100 appearances for Germany despite being apparently lacking in a number of areas. There’s not as much need for recovery pace if you don’t make a mistake which needs recovering in the first place!
Fazio has not shown any consistency in his seven months in English football, and is a weak link in an otherwise passable Spurs defence.
The likes of Cazorla and Ozil will be key to capitalising on this on Saturday.