Daily Archives: August 13, 2011

Arsenal visit St. James Park: Raise the curtains well

4-4 again? I don't think so


After the long wait, Premier League football is back for good and the next 10 months will be filled with excitement as well as intrigue, suspense and despair. Arsenal fans have gotten used to the ‘despair’ but every season comes with fresh hope. After winning the league in Old Trafford in 2001, Arsenal was in pole position to retain their title but losses to Blackburn and Leeds made the Premier League escape their grasp. Manchester United on the other hand won the league in the 2002/03 campaign but they were very shocked when Arsenal came back with a bang to achieve a status of immortality as well as invincibility to end the season as champions without losing a game. The Premier League is a very unpredictable league where teams don’t show football respect to each other, unlike the leagues in Spain and Scotland where it’s always a two-horse race from start to finish. Last season, Manchester United lost their air of invincibility in the hands of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Man City… Wolves. That tells you the whole story.

Wenger looks set to lose Fabregas as well as Nasri in quick succession but he has wasted no time in talking up his new recruits ahead of the season. He says that Ryo Miyaichi can make a huge impact this season so we’ll have to sit and see how Miyaichi will be an ace when we need a plan B. The burden might be too much to place on an 18-year old but he was voted as the 5th best signing in the EreDivisie last year despite playing for only 5 months and that is more than encouraging. Miyaichi has the likes of Arshavin, Walcott and Gervinho ahead of him but he’ll have to bide his time and do his best when he’s brought into the pitch because Wenger has extreme faith in him and we all know that Wenger is a football manager that can be blinded with his faith in a player until the player throws an egg on his face or shines as expected to put a smile on his face.

Fabregas was thrown into the pitch at the age of 16 and became one of the best midfielders in his generation. Bentley was thrown into the same pitch but his career has plummeted into oblivion. Bentley didn’t get as much games as Fabregas but I’m just making a slight point here. Vela hasn’t played 0.001% of the games Fabregas has played but he has showed glimpses of quality that has made Wenger cling unto him even if he’s clearly not in Arsenal’s plans. There are reports emanating that Real Sociedad are considering a loan move for the Aztec Warrior.

Wenger has also talked up his new recruit, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and recently said that the Chambered Ox has a bright future. I’m very certain that Chambered Ox will win the win for us in 2020 but like Miyaichi, he’ll also get his chance to show why he cost us £12m. The same amount of money that was needed to purchase Chris Samba. I know that he’s as fast as Usain Bolt and I’m hoping that he’ll use to great effect for Arsenal this season. The Carling Cup will be the breeding ground for the Chambered Ox because senior players like Arshavin, Walcott and probably Gervinho will be rest in such ties.

Ramsey has said that the team is capable to win things this season and I’m solidly behind him. Fabregas’ exit now means that Ramsey only has the threat of Tomas Rosicky to contend with or the new attacking midfielder that we are all expecting at Arsenal. This season, many teams have beefed themselves up with new signings so Arsenal has to step up if they want to challenge for the title as well as the other trophies that are up for grabs.

Moving over to team news, Wilshere is still out but Walcott is back in the squad. Vermaelen, Gibbs and the soon to be announced club captain, Robin van Persie are also fit and they’ll be thrown into the thick of things this evening at St. James Park. Szczesny had a great game despite conceding four goals in this fixture in February last season so he’ll be eager to visit the ground to prove to Wenger why he has to Arsenal’s No. 1 this season because Lukasz Fabianski is also waiting for his chance. With Eboue packing his bags to leave for Turkey, Sagna will be at the right back position while Gibbs will start his first game this season as Arsenal’s No. 1 left back. Vermaelen is a certain starter at the center of the defense but the preseason has shown everybody that Laurent Koscielny has the upper hand against Johan Djourou so I believe that he’ll be given the nod ahead of the Swiss brick wall.

In the midfield, Song will assume his holding role while Ramsey will provide support for the mohawked one. I preferred when I called him the African Blondie. 🙁

Rosicky will start in the attacking midfield role and I’m praying that he invokes the spirit of his Borussia Dortmund days this evening while defense splitting passes as well as surface to goal missiles from outside the box.

The attack will be led by the Flying Dutchman, Robin van Persie and there’ll be a lot of pace on the wings because Walcott will be thrown into the squad and Gervinho is odds on to be handed a Premier League debut.

My expected lineup should be


Enjoy the match wherever you are.

Arsenal was Arsenal when Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires left the club and Arsenal will still be Arsenal when Fabregas and Nasri, and a lot richer too. 🙂

Lest I forget, new squad numbers have been announced. Szczesny has taken the spirit of Hleb and Gallas, Chambered Ox got Denilson’s number but he might not be an escort-in-chief, Miyaichi preferred No. 31 to 42 (no difference) and Gervinho kept the Ivorian flag running by taking Farmer Eboue’s No. 27.


A tribute to Francesc Fabregas Soler: Vision and Class

It saddens me to know that after nine months of consistent blogging, my 200th post will be dedicated to my second best footballer of all time shortly after he decided to leave the club after my own heart.

…“There are not many players in the World that can offer what Fabregas has offered Arsenal Football Club. Blood, sweat, sand, assists, goals, class, determination, teamwork, technique and a 110% effort in every game.”…

…. “I must admit that I’m not looking forward to writing a post about Fabregas’ departure because it could leave a tear or two in my eyes. It’s also pleasing to know that Barcelona is a broke-ass club at the moment and I hope that they won’t reach Arsenal’s evaluation for Fabregas”…

Culled from The Fabregate continues and a signing that would really Mata – June 28, 2011.

The picture has been painted vividly and all gooners have been given a nasty bite by reality. The unstoppable force at Arsenal called Francesc Fabregas is no more.

On the 4th of May, 1987 in the city of Vilassar de Mar, Barcelona, Francesc Fabregas Sr. and Nuria Soler brought a star into this planet from Krypton. At the age of just 24, he’ll be looking forward to a new footballing chapter in his life but the memories he left as well as the legendary status he had attained in his former club will sink in the hearts of gooners forever. His career is still very young and he has his best years ahead of him but he owes his footballing life to a man that was more than a father to him, Arsene Wenger.

Fabregas was handed his Spanish national team debut on the 1st of March, 2006 in a friendly against Ivory Coast and has 58 caps for Spain, scoring six goals in his 4-year stint in national colors. Before making his debut for the senior team, he represented Spain in all junior levels. He made 14 appearances for the Under-17’s and scored seven goals. He also had five caps for the Under-20’s before moving to the Under-21’s were he made 11 appearances with two goals to his name. He stepped into the limelight on the international scene in the 2003 Under-17 World Cup that took place in Scandinavia. He was the top scorer of that tourney and he also won the MVP award in the same tournament even if Spain finished as the runners-up to the eventual winners, Brazil.

At the age of 19, Fabregas was called up by Luis Aragones to play for Spain in a friendly match against Ivory Coast on the 1st of March, 2006. Fabregas also entered the record books for playing the match because he came the youngest ever player to wear the Spanish jersey in over 70 years. A record that was previously held by Rafael Nadal……..Sergio Ramos. Three months later, Fabregas was listed in the 23-man squad list that was to represent Spain in the FIFA World Cup scheduled to be hosted in Germany. In the World Cup, Fabregas spent more time on the bench but he did well when summoned into the pitch and this turned the tables around for him. He provided an assist when Spain beat Tunisia and he also started in the final group game against Saudi Arabia. When Spain played with the eventual World Cup finalists, France, Fabregas started the game but the Pope of Modern Day football Zinedine Zidane stole the show. Fabregas also held the record as the youngest ever player to represent Spain in a World Cup.

Two years later, Fabregas was called up once again by Luis Aragones to represent Spain in the 2008 European Championships that took place in Switzerland and Austria. He broke his international duck when Spain played Russia in the group stages with a headed goal and he was Spain’s hero in the quarterfinals by scoring the match winning penalty when they played Italy in a game that ended in a goalless stalemate. He was very influential in the semifinals against Russia by providing two assists for his teammate and that earned him a starting place in the final match against Germany that ended in victory thanks to a clinical finish by Fernando Torres.

Fabregas’ contribution in the tournament didn’t go unnoticed and he was named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.

As expected, Spain represented Europe in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup that took place in South Africa and Fabregas was called up again. He scored his second international goal go when Spain mauled New Zealand by 5-0. Fabregas and Spain were overconfident when they played USA in the semifinals and they found themselves on the end of a 2-0 defeat. USA almost achieved the same feat with Brazil in the finals but after leading by 2 goals at halftime, Kaka and Luis Fabiano turned on the style to give the Americans their own version of Samba to win the tournament.

Fabregas produced his best ever performance as a player in the 2009/10 campaign with 19 goals and 19 assists but he was deemed not good enough in Vicente del Bosque’s 2010 World Cup squad that started almost every game with Sergi Busquets, Xabi Alonso and Xavi across the midfield. Even a midfield demigod like Andres Iniesta had to settle for a place on the wings. He came in as a sub in most of the games but his most important contribution in the tournament was the assist he gave Iniesta in the final match against the Netherlands.

As a Spanish player, Fabregas has won football’s biggest price (2010) as well as the European Championships in 2008 but he has settled for silver in the Under-17 World Cup (2003) and the Under-17 European Championships (2004). He has also been honored for his services for Spain with the award of the Under-17 World Cup Golden Shoe (2003), Under-17 World Cup Golden Ball (2003), Under-17 European Championship Golden Ball (2004) and UEFA Team of the Tournament (2008).

Fabregas began his football career in Barcelona’s Mutant Academy in 2003 but he was snapped for pennies by Wenger in the same and was handed the No. 57 jersey. Arsenal had a formidable midfield that had talisman Patrick Vieira as well as 2002 World Cup winner Gilberto Silva with Edu and Ray Parlour providing depth so the chances of Fabregas breaking into the team were slim to none. However, he was given his Arsenal debut on the 23rd of October, 2003 when Arsenal played Rotherham United in the Carling Cup. Fabregas became Arsenal’s youngest ever player at the milk age of 16 years and 177 days after playing that match but Jack Wilshere broke the record when Arsenal played Blackburn in September 2009. Fabregas also became Arsenal’s youngest ever goal scorer when he scored against Wolves. Arsenal ended the 2003/04 as worthy champions but Fabregas wasn’t given a winners medal because he didn’t play any match.

As the years went by, Fabregas reaffirmed himself in the club and Vieira’s exit in the 2005/06 campaign paved the way for Arsenal’s new No.4 to strut his stuff on a weekly basis. Fabregas made 35 league appearances that season and was part of the Arsenal squad that went into the Champions League final without conceding a goal for 10 matches. In the 2006/07 season, Arsenal moved to their new home and Fabregas was ever-present in the squad playing all 38 league matches. He scored two league goals and provided 13 assists. In the 2007/08 campaign, Arsenal came close to silverware but Eduardo’s injury coupled with Mercenary Gallas’ childishness played a big role in Arsenal’s demise that season.

In the 2008/09 season, Gallas crossed the line again so his captaincy was stripped from him and on the 28th of November, 2008 the mantle was passed on to a certain 21-year old called Francesc Fabregas. He was compared with Arsenal’s great leader Tony Adams who assumed the role of club captain at the same age. Fabregas excelled in that campaign but an unfortunate injury caused by his national teammate Xabi Alonso in a match against Liverpool sidelined him for four months.  He came back stronger in the 2009/10 season scoring 19 goals and supplying 19 assists before representing Spain in the World Cup.

Last season, injuries and poor form were the order of the day for Arsenal’s captain but there were games were his light shone through. Fabregas was the subject of a move to Barcelona in a saga that lasted for 3 seasons.

His amazing works for Arsenal Football Club has not gone with the wind he has been awarded with some accolades in recognition of his achievements. He won the 2004 Community Shield as well the 2005 FA Cup but he was a silver medalist in the 2006 UEFA Champions League and the Carling Cup on two occasions (2007 and 2011). In Arsenal colors, he was awarded in the UEFA Champions League Team of the Year on two occasions (2006, 2008), PFA Young player of the Year (2008) and the PFA Team of the Year (2008 and 2010).

As a player, Fabregas is a very adept dead ball specialist and he was responsible for taking Arsenal’s corners on the right hand side as well as penalties. He wasn’t a renowned free kick taker but his free kick against Aston Villa in 2009 was a thing of beauty. He wasn’t a clinical goal scorer in his early years at the club but he surprised a lot of people in the 2009/10 campaign by scoring 19 goals. He is also a highly technical player that has many individual high attributes which include good first touch, composure, high determination and selflessness in his play.

Fabregas has an attribute that stands out from others, his passing range. The eagle-eyed player has broken record after record for the history bookmakers and they do the talking for him on the pitch. In his first full season at Arsenal (2004/05), he had 46 overall appearances and scored 5 goals making 4 assists. As he matured as a player, they increased and in the 2007/08 campaign he played 45 games, scored 13 goals and made 22 assists. This earned him a place in the PFA and UEFA Team of the Year and he crowned it all with the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

In his eight years at Arsenal Football Club, Francesc Fabregas made 303 appearances, scored 57 goals and had a century of assists (100) with 80 of them supplied in the Premier League.

In Fabregas does not represent vision and class, then tell me what those words mean.

Francesc Fabregas Soler, thanks for the memories.

At least, I still have you on Football Manager 2011, Barcelona can’t snatch you up from there.


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