It is, perhaps, inevitable that Sunday afternoon’s match is going to see a disproportionate amount of attention focused on a certain Cesc Fabregas.
This is as unfortunate as it is inevitable, really.
It’s unfortunate because his return to the Emirates with the Champions elect is certain to overshadow the great strides made by his former club this season. Particularly if Chelsea win, a result that would leave them two points from the title.
We have already seen certain media outlets (the Independent) identify Arsène’s refusal to bow to sentiment- or was it logic – as the key factor in Chelsea’s march to the title. It’s a nice story, Arsène turning the other cheek whilst the prodigal son punches him in the face with his array of slide rule passes. Actually, though it is a mixing of biblical metaphors, that’s not a nice story at all, is it? You know what I mean.
It’s a story, that’s for sure, but not an entirely accurate one.
Would having Cesc Fabregas in our team have compensated for the fact that we started the season with only two senior centre backs? Would Cesc have prevented the brainless concession of points against the likes of Swansea and Manchester United? I don’t think so.
Though he might have prevented Santi Cazorla’s flourishing in a deep-lying playmaker role. Or Mesut Özil’s realisation that playing in the Premier League requires physical and mental toughness to go with ability.
Don’t get me wrong, I wanted him back. of course I did.
That’s not really the point of this, though. I write this in the knowledge that nothing I say here will make any difference to anything anyone does, or doesn’t do, at Arsenal on Sunday. However, my point is very simple:
Cesc Fabregas is the enemy only in that he now plays for Chelsea; he is not THE enemy.
Whatever about the way that he left the club. He’d had three years of the best club in the world tapping him up. Every weekend, wherever Arsenal were, he could go around the dressing room and see the likes of Eboue, Bendtner and Denilson alongside him.
Put yourself in his position and what would you do? If you chose Eboue and co., you’re a better person than me, a much better person.
Of course, he went back home, too early in my humble opinion, but I didn’t begrudge him that. I couldn’t. How were we to know Barcelona would spend the next three years treating him as if they only signed him to sell him to someone else?
I may have mentioned this before, but it seems that Barcelona spent even more time trying to sell him, as they did tapping him up.
Anyway, once Barcelona’s plan to rebuild without, and Arsène’s reluctance to reclaim, him came to light, what was Cesc Fabregas supposed to do? Retire? It may stick in the craw to see him playing for Chelsea – not for nothing have I spent the last eight months referring to him as Cognitive Dissonance – but, like it or not, he has the chance to now realise a dream he first had as a 16-year-old boy. I may be being overly romantic here, but I don’t think, even as he stands on the brink of realising that dream, that it will mean as much to him as it would have with Arsenal.
After all, relatively speaking, he’s been at Chelsea for five minutes.
It’s gone now, that opportunity. Football is a funny game, but I’m not sure it’s funny enough to include a return to north London for one of the best players I’ve ever seen wear the red and white.
It’s worth pointing out too, that whilst the player may say he owes everything that has come to him in his football career to Arsène Wenger, Wenger owes a certain debt to Cesc Fabregas too.
We all do, in a way.
It was Fabregas precocious skill and fighting spirit which carried a much weaker team than the one he signed for through the majority of the austerity years. It was this player’s quality which kept Arsenal in the top four whilst Arsenal skimped on signings to pay for the magnificent stadium they now call home.
Could it have happened without him? Possibly, but it was a damn sight easier with him in the team. In the end, he had enough and he went home. By that time, Arsenal were a lot closer to the promised land of 2014 and the end of the top-loaded initial contracts with the Emirates and Nike. Bye bye austerity, hello Cazorla, Özil and Alexis!
To me, we have the years Cesc gave Arsenal to thank for these signings. Without him, Champions League football would have been much more difficult to achieve and then these superstars less likely to come.
However, they are here now and he is there, with the enemy.
Let’s pay Cesc Fabregas the respect his contribution to the Arsenal cause deserves and then get behind the boys who are fighting for our cause now. Let’s do so in the knowledge that, finally…. at last, we now have a team and a squad genuinely capable of mixing it with the big boys.
It’s too late for us to win the league title this season, but a commanding performance, and a win, against Mourinho’s team of mercenaries would certainly give the put upon one something to think about ahead of next season.
It’s not too much to ask, is it?
Come on Arsenal!