In Contrast: Two different results, two different Fabregas performances

There was one clear contrast between the Newcastle and Wolverhampton games, which revealed the difference between a 1-0 defeat and a 2-0 win. That contrast was Cesc Fabregas.

Fabregas had one of his worst ever performances in an Arsenal shirt against a determined Newcastle side on Sunday, and that game ended in defeat. Of course there are more factors than just Cesc, but his performances are a fascinating strand of this story.

Against Newcastle Cesc misplaced almost 27% of his passes during the game, and this epitomised the way Arsenal played as a team on the day. In the end the team found little rhythm or flow, and were beaten deservedly.

At the time I compared Fabregas to Cheik Tiote, the talented Ivory Coast midfielder, on Guardian Chalkboards and Fabregas’ poor display was starkly revealed. Tiote only misplaced one pass, and has been one of the standout performers for this Newcastle side.

A midweek game at Wolves presented a different challenge, no less difficult, and it was another shaky display. However, although Fabregas used the ball less here, he readjusted his play and misplaced only 8% of his 38 pass attempts.

This is the difference between a defeat and scraping a win. Not only that but Fabregas provided an assist too; 50% of the goals on the night.

Everyone knows how crucial Fabregas is to the Arsenal side; his passing can pull the team through games. Against Newcastle none of the side played well, but an in-form Fabregas could have pulled something out of nothing. As it was the poor passing meant Arsenal never found that flow, which would normally be dictated by Fabregas at the heart of midfield.

Fabregas’ drive is clear, as early as 2007 he told the Guardian:

“We get upset with each other when we don’t do things properly and you need this passion, this desire to win things…every training session I get angry because I think I didn’t do well.”¹

This perfectionism resulted in a much improved display against Wolves. Reducing his mistakes from 27% to 8% is a pretty clear signal.

No matter how shaky the win, three points and a clean sheet away from home are not to be taken lightly. Arsenal now look to Everton on Sunday to build on their form.

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1. Mike Herd 2008: The Guardian Book of Football: Fifty Years of Classic Reporting. Guardian Books: London, p. 164

3 thoughts on “In Contrast: Two different results, two different Fabregas performances

  1. Kathar

    I have to agree with you James, Cesc is not 100% ready he still feels the pain and that restricts him, once his 100% ready will have are sniper:P

  2. Davi

    I dont think fabregas is so crucial to arsenal as is being made out. Over a season, he obviously can make a big difference, but he actually hurt us against newcastle and should have been replaced rather than wilshere, who was doing well. If he’s not on form there is no point in picking him.
    We can win games without him in the side, but when hes on decent form he obviously improves us. THe really troubling thing with cesc this year is his finishing. Last season I cant remember him missing any decent chances, this year he has missed about 5 or 6 already, several of which have been right in front of the goal.
    Rosicky has been excellent this year, and could have played cesc’s role better against newcastle; or wilshere could have played a more advanced role, allowing denilson to come into the midfield, who has also done well this season- so we do have options.
    It is wenger who relies on fabregas too much, not the arsenal team- they have shown already that they can adapt, and had cesc not been in the side misplacing simple passes against newcastle, we could be 2nd now. That is to say, we could be sitting in 2nd place, close behind chelsea, in a season where fabregas has been either unavailable or off-form- so we don’t rely on him that much.
    I hope wenger is not going to make the same mistake with van persie. We rushed him back unnecessarily against blackburn, and he was clearly not ready, and he ultimately ended up aggrevating his recovering injury. All this when chamakh was available and on very good form.

    1. I see your point Davi, it’s true that teams can become over-reliant on one player. My point in this article was just to look at one part of the wider picture, because I felt that Cesc’s performances summed up the way Arsenal played in those two games.

      Not only that, but Cesc has the ability to pull the team through the more difficult games. What we are seeing this season though is the emergence of Jack Wilshere as a passing talent, and I think that relieves a lot of the burden that can be placed on Cesc sometimes.

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