There’s not too much Arsenal news floating around today (it often happens on a Thursday when we have a Sunday game, with the manager’s press conference not until the afternoon) with the best of it coming from the mouths of Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky and Lukasz Fabianski.
Cesc has stated that he believes this week’s opponents Manchester City are now a tital rival, Rosicky added that the difference between Chelsea and Arsenal is an absence of killer instinct in front of goal while Fabianski has remarked that he is feeling more confident on the pitch. But instead of commenting on their remarks – which are all spot on and bare little discussion – I’d like to give some opinion on the three players in question.
Starting with Cesc, I think it was noticeable how much he has been missed during his injury lay-off. It’s not so much that we rely on him to do everything but his presence in the team – much like Michael Ballack when he plays for Germany – has such a galvanising impact on the rest of the team. Players like Abou Diaby and Samir Nasri can appear hindered by the pinch of responsibility, Andrey Arshavin’s exquisite footballing brain is misunderstood and young players like Jack Wilshere are not permitted to express themselves as completely as when Cesc is on the pitch.
The captain was rusty against Shakhtar Donetsk but he still oozed class. His return allowed Arsene Wenger to play a midfield trio with a rare quality: three players who could pass, tackle and cover for each other in each midfield role, a sentiment supported by Zonal Marking’s tactical piece about the game. His awareness and positioning is so good that it secures the midfield in defence and he is so reliable in possession that the runs of players further forward become more frequent and natural.
If Cesc goes at the end of this season as expected, we still have enough quality to cover for him. But if he stays, Wilshere keeps developing and Aaron Ramsey can get back to form then next season we will have a midfield the envy of every side in Europe, including Barcelona and Chelsea.
Moving onto Rosicky and in my opinion the Czech man has been the quiet achiever of this season. His performances have been consistently impressive and whenever he has been introduced from the bench he improved the team. He is still not scoring enough goals for a player in his position but the feeling I get if he can just nab one, the floodgates may open.
Rosicky has more defensive awareness than any of the other players who start across the front three and this may be important in the bigger games later in the season. Wenger has often used Emmanuel Eboue on the right side of attack to give the side balance with Arshavin allergic to defending on the other flank, but this is a role that Rosicky is also fit to play.
What has also been notable about Rosicky’s participation in the team this season is that it has been carefully managed by Wenger. It is clear that he is still nursing him back from his terrible long-term injury ordeal and wants to prolong his career for as long as possible. Baring all this in mind if Rosicky can bang in a couple of goals and continue to prove his fitness, he may well be called upon more consistently in the later stages of the season.
Finally today, Fabianski. What a story his is turning out to be.
It would be foolish to conclude that Fabianski has proved everybody wrong, that he is now a top goalkeeper and he deserves to have the No1 jersey. But since his return to the side he has not put a foot or indeed, a hand, wrong.
Since the joyous moment of his Belgrade penalty save Fabianski has looked a new man. Despite the loss to Chelsea he put in a flawless display, making a number of good saves and commanding his area with ease. Against Birmingham he was called upon less often from shots but looked even better in the air. His confident last minute diving catch, a moment greatly appreciated by Eboue and Alex Song, revealed a man who is happier and more comfortable than he has ever been at the club.
I made a comment back in August that Fabianski “has the same nuggety feel of Victor Valdes, a player who for his first two seasons in the Barcelona first team combined brilliant shot-stopping performances with some horrendous errors”. They can both look a bit scrambled at times but just as Valdes has kicked on to become a spectacular mainstay in the Barcelona starting team if Fabianski can continue this form, it won’t be long until he holds the same distinction at Arsenal.
There is obviously a long way to go but the signs are good and as far as a footballing story goes, Fabianski’s has the chance to be one of the more romantic in the past few years.
Have your say on Cesc, Rosicky and Fabianski by leaving a comment.
The editor and chief writer of AFCB, Andrew Weber is the man who started it all. An analytical and thoughtful writer, Andy has been entertaining readers of the blog for over three years and is also a keen football culture connoisseur.