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October 2016
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The decline of Chelsea and the foresight of Wenger all explained in one player

By Tony Attwood

Do take a look at the link to the Indy video at the end.  Try not to laugh.  At least not too much.  You don’t want your boss to know you’re watching football rather than working.

In June 2014 Cesc Fabregas signed for Chelsea.

At £27 million, he was cheaper than Alexis Sánchez, Diego Costa, Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. He cost Chelsea only £2 million more than Liverpool paid Southampton for Adam Lallana

Many of the people who love to see everything Arsenal does as a sign of their decline and a witness to the club’s pathetic inability to get even the simplest thing right were apoplectic.  The only thing that could have worked them up more would have been if Arsenal had turned up at the wrong ground for a match.

Not everyone however was taken in by the hype.  Some, it is true, were restrained.   Lee Dixon tweeted at the time I loved Fabregas. I feel we had the best of him. We don’t need another midfielder like him. Good player but priority elsewhere. Move on.

Yet at first it might have seemed that Fabregas was making things happen for Chelsea.  But by last weekend we had the headline in the Independent

Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas took two of the worst free-kicks in football history against Tottenham

That was in the game that Jose Mourinho said was Chelsea’s “best performance of the season”.

But there has been no escaping there has been some sort of decline in Fabregas’ play.  A decline in his ability to pass for example which is also reflected in his decline as a goalscorer – from a highpoint of 15 in 27 games in 2009/10 at Arsenal to 11 in 32 as his best in three years at Barcelona, and down again to 3 in 34 last season for Chelsea.

The first thing that was spotted generally was his tendency to have an alarming second half of the season slump.  Now the more knowledgeable supporters of football clubs know that lots of players can have a dip, but some fans are a little less unforgiving, and this was certainly the case with Chelsea fans who have watched the aaa and seen it as a blueprint rather than a dire warning.

By March last year, even in the midst of a Championship winning season, were really getting on Fabregas’ back.  This happened particularly in a 1-1 draw against Southampton when those at the ground made it quite clear that this decline was not acceptable to them.  They were the fans, they had paid, they knew, and they were going to tell him.

Even Jamie Carragher, a man not noted for noticing anything much, commented how Fabregas’s slump was then having an effect on the whole Chelsea team after the defeat to PSG.  And that was true. Fabregas was no longer keeping his decline totally personal – he was spreading it around.  (There is a perfect example of that in the video that concludes this little resume).

In March 2015 even the Telegraph – a regular supporter of Chelsea and its oil based ownership – were forced into making excuses, saying that “Cesc Fabregas has experienced late-season dips inall competitions – that drop has been evident in a decline in his passing.”

But the problems began way before Chelsea.

When Barcelona wanted to explain why they were letting him go given that he body was packed with the club’s DNA, the club’s official website, the Catalan, noted that he seemed to have growing problems.

“There has been a downward trend in his stats every season at the club,” the statement read.   “He slipped right back into the FCB system as if he’d never been away. But despite glowing starts to each campaign, Cesc’s contributions to the cause gradually decreased as each season drew to a close.”

But there was more, for the big worry for anyone who thought of employing Fabregas was that late season decline is getting earlier and earlier each season and it was affecting others.

This season as early as September Sky Sports ran the headline Cesc Fabregas struggling for form at Chelsea: What has gone wrong?

Then Gary Neville, a man who always knows a soap box when he sees one, claimed that Cesc wasn’t strong enough, even  during his time at Arsenal.  Carragher weighed in with “He lacks tactical intelligence, especially defensively.  That’s one of the reasons why Barcelona let Chelsea take him.”  Well yes, that is what their web site said.  Well done that man, for reading the internet.

But even Guillem Balague, a man who knows more about football in his little finger than most of the rest of the pundits put together, said, “The demands of a Barca midfielder require a lot of discipline and a tactical approach.  Guardiola tried to convince him [Cesc] for a long time what he had to do, but couldn’t.”

And yet what is Fabregas’ role at Chelsea?  He plays the deep role.  At first it didn’t work, and Chelsea conceded six goals in their first four games in 2014/15.  But then they settled down, and Fabregas just tailed off towards the end.

Now that sort of year could be explained in two ways.  One is that Fabregas could after all play more defensively and get it right, so 1-0 to Mourinho for seeing how to make it happen.  Or it could have been that Fabregas put every ounce of his energy and know-how into making it work, but it was an effort that could never be maintained all season.  Add that to his usual end of season dip and he faded away even more.

So the curious fact is that Fabregas got six assists from the first four games last season, more than any other player.  It made everyone scared of Chelsea, and gave everyone at Chelsea time to believe and fit in.  By the second half of the season as Fabregas started to fade, everyone else in the club was on such a high that they carried the momentum forwards.  The refs were frightened of doing anything against the media’s favourites, (just look at Chelsea v Arsenal last season or indeed this) and so Fabregas fading talent was masked.

What has gone wrong now is that he can’t start the motor running again this season – the end of last season has morphed into the start of 2015/16.  Commentators were quickly aware of how his pass completion rate was down and sliding right from the start and got on his back…

Cesc Fabregas struggling for form at Chelsea announced Sky Sports on 4 September.

Cesc Fabregas has become a liability for Chelsea said the Telegraph on 14 September.

Cesc Fabregas’ Chelsea decline highlighted with stats this season vs this point last season announced the Metro at the end of October (spelling it out in the headline just in case the readership didn’t have the stamina to read further.)

But just how bad has he got?

Well, now we know thanks to a video from the Independent.  It really is extraordinary viewing.   Can you imagine what the aaa would be saying if Arsenal really had spent even the bargain price that was highlighted at the start of the article?

Do take a look at the link to the Indy video.  Try not to laugh.  At least not too much.  You don’t want your boss to know you’re watching football rather than working.

Today’s Anniversary

1 – 5 December 1886:   Extrapolating from the dates of other events we can take it that between these two dates a meeting was held to form Dial Square FC ahead of their first game on 11 December against Eastern Wanderers.

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49 comments to The decline of Chelsea and the foresight of Wenger all explained in one player

  • That Wenger, `e don`t know nuffink about football do `e ?
    I must confess, I was one of those who hoped that Cesc would come “home”, but again, “Arsene knows best”
    Even your excellent article, doesn`t point out that Wenger was right (not a criticism)
    It`s just the way of football, to complain when your team doesn`t win the Cup, League and everything else etc.
    This isn`t the nature of your blog, which is perhaps why yours is the only one worth reading
    More inclined to put facts down rather than eye catching rubbish

    Many thanks

  • Spot on Tony. Looks like Wenger dodged a bullet by passing on the turn-coat. The man actually sees what most don’t see. Letting go of Cesc was painful, but refusing to take him back was probably better. Who among the silly lot slating Arsene dare give a whimper now?

    It may seem premature to write him off, but age is definitely not on the player’s side. Plus , his team of choice (as if he had many options left) is not having the best of times, neither is his “best coach in the world”. Cannot wait to see where they end up at season’s end. It will take the bravest of the brave to bet in favour of Chelsea winning the league this season, as against Arsenal taking the top prize.

    This could have been your life Arsenal, and remember who saved you from it, at such a huge cost to his reputation and well being. Our ‘season of fruitful endeavour’ as far as trophies are concerned has started, and somehow those have delayed it are no longer here. Yes, am talking about Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, and Alex Song. How come they left and we began to shine? How do you explain that?

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • Gouresh

    Its not that he is a bad player, its how to get the best out of him and AW did the best job. But when the player starts to think that he is the most important part and without him the team wont win, that’s the sign of his downfall.

  • Josif

    I am really happy that we had dodged this bullet. A man who was “injured” while his troops needed him most (hell, even Samir Nasri put on an Arsenal shirt for the last time when we were decimated in the midfield!), a man who has never grown enough respect for either Arsene Wenger or late Tito Villanova to refuse working for the eye-poking twat by providing goals to another eye-poking twat, a man which word meant less than a book in John Terry’s life.

    It can be summed up like this: Cesc Fabregas has been in constant decline because he doesn’t have a spine to rise up from the floor.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Ah Cesc… the last player I had his name on a shirt. He learned me a lesson to never put the name of a player on a shirt ever again. So thanks for that.
    I hated it when he went. I even could have welcomed him back when it was clear he had to go at Barcelona. But the way he has behaved himself over there has taken the last bit of love away. I now wish him a equally bad career as RVP.
    Win one title and then decline…utter decline. See you in Turkey next season Cesc… Ask Robin the way.

  • Chris

    Funny, in the Indy link there is this quote from Eden Hazard :

    “We want to finish in the top four and we know it’s difficult but we will try. We will continue to work hard and continue to take pleasure from our game.”

    Funny times, aren’t they, when Chelsea players consider a top four finish a season’s goal….I remember reading so many criticizing comments about arsenal that this was no trophy….and no darn reason to be proud of the achievement…..

    Times they are a’changin’

    Excellent article by the way. Love the learning I get reading UA


  • Pete

    I do feel sad at Cesc’s demise. In 2010 he laid on the goal that won Spain the World Cup for the first and so far only time. It would take a lot to prevent that going to your head. He was a national hero! He also made a dubious decision in his personal life too (from the outside looking in and thinking purely in terms of the apparent impact on his football – I sincerely hope he is happy domestically) so very hard to stay grounded.

  • ARSENAL 13

    that free kick to smack Willian was funny.. Did he not get a red card for that?? hahahahahha

  • Mandy Dodd

    always loved him as an Arsenal player. Heard rumours, and they were only that that he did not leave us in good grace, and in fact ensured we were on the end of a very poor deal which was not fully disclosed.
    But still cannot bring myself to wish him any ill , due to what he once did for us.
    But, think Cesc is a bit of a free spirit on the pitch, not suited to the defensive, demands of Mourinho certainly, wrong player,wrong club, and whatever his malaise, it seems to be spreading there

  • Andy Mack

    On my broken PC there’s a link to a web-site that marks the timeline of the Cesc to Barca fiasco and it includes an interview where Ivan pretty much confirms that Cesc went ‘on strike’ to get the move (confirming the very strong rumours). Something miraculous would have had to happen for him to come back to us without effecting the team moral. Every player could have thought that he’d be OK to move but could come back if that didn’t work out for the better….

  • Jojo

    Isn’t the whole…decline of Chelsea thing a but premature? (I mean they did just win the league a few months ago)

    The league looks a long shot for them yes, but I really wouldn’t bet my house on them not finishing in the top 3 even now, and there are still cups to play in. At some point they will get a good run of form together. They can quite possibly still have a very good season.

    Also yes Fabregas has been poor, but again there’s still about 2/3rds of the season left to go (and a transfer window coming up). Fabregas has been poor but so have all their key players from last season, Matic, Hazard, Costa, Ivanovic and Terry to name a few, plus their manager losing his marbles (and Courtois going down)..That certainly hasn’t helped his individual game. Seems kinda weird pinning decline and foresight in absolutes based on the current form of one player.

    Also form comes and goes, not too long ago people were saying Kane, Coutinho and some other of last seasons brightest sparks were crap because they were performing poorly early this season, now they are flying. I don’t think it’s impossible that Cesc can find form at 27/28 still.. do you? Forget the personal/moral issues with him for a second, as a player do you think it’s impossible he can yet still salvage his season’s performances?

    Seems a bit silly summing up decline/foresight based on one player and one moment. That said player was instrumental in them winning the league, he or they wouldn’t trade that title for anything, even this season’s troubles so far…so was it not foresight then to get him and his impact last season towards the title? Or is now, all that counts?

    We’ve had some horrific starts to seasons in recent years (yes not as bad as theirs probably) and were written off as declined too no? Did you similarly write us off as in decline after those starts? No, right? It would be silly to do so.

    And regarding their ambitions now being 4th..well yeah that’s logical. The season’s start was a disaster for them, so naturally there’s going to be some shift in priorities that reflect the reality of their position now. That doesn’t equate “decline” or at least prolonged decline. Who says they won’t get it right next season? They certainly have the resources to try to do so.

    Anyway the point of my note here, is this seems way too hasty. By all means let’s revel in their current predicament, and let’s laugh at Mourinho losing the plot and struggling mightily really for the first time in his career..

    But we’ve all been following football long enough to know the risk of having egg on our face by making absolute judgments at the beginning of December for a season that terminates at the end of May.

    Just my 2 cents

  • ay

    Cesc Frabegas! That was the Only Arsenal player that my wife knew because of the number of times i screamed it.He betrayed the whole Gunnersphere. Now, look at him. He is almost gone. Good God, Deliver us Fabregas Syndrome!

  • I still think Cesc Fabregas deserves the ignominy of a whimpering finale to his career. He took a gamble and lost. Why anyone would pity him is beyond me. He had it all and he allowed some dodgy sweet nothings to be whispered to his ears.

    He believed a lie and stabbed his one true friend in the heart, in full view of the world, the man who made him and only one equipped to truly guide him to his destiny. It is a massive understatement that his destiny NEVER was in Barcelona. He was built for Arsenal, tailor-made for the Wenger era. A little more patience, and he would have discovered true greatness, he would have had greatness thrust on him, and he would have easily become a legend of this great club. Well, he threw it all in Wenger’s face and elected for a little romp with the enemies of Arsenal. Now let’s see who is going to really save him from the lifetime of regret, of what could have been if only he had stayed true to Arsenal Football Club.

    I had a bad feeling about that wrong move, and my gut feeling was that it was going to end very badly for his very promising career. Now I feel vindicated, but with this bad taste left in my mouth. Fabregas-Arsenal was a marriage made in heaven, Wenger as the supervising priest of the union. Now it’s history.

    Wenger must have found out that this player was on a downward spiral and his (Wenger’s) love for the club must have told him to let go of his love for the player. How many players has he raised to prominence? How many of those same players has he cut loose, after taking a hard, cold look at their stats? He loves his players like his own son, but ultimately, he loved this club more. Nothing can take the place of Arsenal in Wenger’s heart. For him, there can only be one true love, and AFC is it. His devotion is unquestionable. It is therefore incongruent that some would question his commitment to the success of the club.

    Am really sad writing this, but happy that we have a legend happening before our eyes, managing this huge club of clubs. Thank you Mr. Wenger, for all you have done and are doing for our club.

  • John

    I think its quite sad with some of the hatred some have on here for Fabregas. He was a great player for us for quite a few years and always gave his all.Im sure if the boss had put his hand in his pocket he would of again been playing for the arsenal instead of Chelsea,and for all the criticism of his decline he would of been a damn site better option than Arteta and Flamini.

  • Rantetta

    For me it’s not entirely about a Fabregas decline.

    I believe his present manager doesn’t help. There’s a book called: The Special One, by Diego Torres. (I’ve just finished reading it. It was bought for me by a friend who got it for £3 inc. postage from Amazon).

    This book shows exactly what the One does to his teams, how they’re organised, the amount of power he desires, and how he achieves success and failure – marking his time at Real Madrid. My gripes with our own 4th estate heighten, having read this book, as they must all have read it too, and therefore understand exactly how the One operates. They’ve then omitted to link his behaviour/MO to what has happened in clubs managed by him.

    It’s funny how There has been an article here about Pep. Have a look at this article which talks about Fab’s time at Barca:

    After all of that, yes, Fab appears to be having a bad run of form?

  • Dave C

    All these traitors deserve nothing, and Cesc is no different. I even took a beating on this site when I called Henry a traitor, but we came close to winning the title right after he left. We might have won it if he didn’t cut and run, but he left for Barca no less. I simply can’t pretend it didn’t happen. Just my opinion and I do appreciate what he’s done for the club.

    I believe Cesc was worse than the whole lot of them. It’s amazing how Nasri and RVP could talk nonsense about the club after they left, but Cesc would play nice and pretend he didn’t leave the club under such adverse circumstances. He did some real questionable stuff including faking injury, and as previously mentioned, getting us a lesser fee considering his 7 year contract. At least Nasri and RVP didn’t pretend to be leaving because of ‘DNA’ when he really just wanted to be part of a team that was winning everything under the sun. If he were honest, many of us wouldn’t have felt such disdain for him. But leaving for ‘DNA’ sounds so good, doesn’t it? Fuck him.

  • Jojo

    @ Stan the man, all a bit dramatic I think. First why are you projecting your emotions, thoughts and feelings as though they are Fabregas’…?

    “His one true friend”? Really? You don’t think he has and should have other true friends in football (including at Barca) and not in football who are true and important to him?

    Players cross paths so many different ways as teammates, opponents, national teams, sharing agents and sponsors, at youth levels etc..having friends across the tribal lines (of fans) happens, your teammate one day could be your opponent the next and vice versa. .that’s the nature of professional football. Players artly don’t alienate others because of the tribal lines fans draw..that would be dumb career-wise.

    “Stabbed him in the heart”? Hyperbole much? It’s professional football, players come and go, and make decisions for their careers and lives over anything else, as they should, as we likely all do. It’s a profession with a very short window, and these are professional decisions, just like when managers and teams (including ours), get rid of players including long servants when they are deemed no longer usueful (yet we only tend to look at loyalty as a one way street)… it’s the nature of the sport.

    “Life long regrets”? Says who? Cesc or you ? I’d guess he’s not entirely professionally happy with his time at Barca but I’d guess he isn’t entirely unhappy either, he won quite a bit of silverware, and likely a bigger regret I think (notice not know), would have been the ‘what if’ of not taking the chance to play at the senior level for his hometown/region club Barcelona.

    It’s quite possible there are several other non football factors (that we aren’t and shouldn’t be privy to) that don’t make this a life long regret as you pass as fact, seemingly. Also he won the league the Chelsea, as much as we try to dismiss that. Really would be surprised that he’ll have a lifelong regret about that.

    Lastly,while it seems you’ve written his chelsea obituary already as though it’s fact, I just caution that he’s still only just a third into his second season there and is a couple years still off 30..I’m not sure why you think the final chapter of his time at Chelsea, in terms of successes, has already been written. There’s still many pages left in that book.

  • Rantetta


    Sorry, I disagree with you.

    Whilst Flamini leaving was at best inconvenient and happened in 2008?, Fab’s leaving was surrounded by (at best) greater controversy.

    Mikel Artetta has done the job of two players in the time he has been at Arsenal, because he came at a time of maximum disruption, and he have it his all. That’s why he’s club captain. (Sure, he has since been kicked out of the game and remains struggling to find his form).

    Flamini also, since his return has done his best and given his all, with some success, especially once he’s played successive games (which all players need to reach form).

    I find your take on both of them ‘disingenuous maximus’.

  • Well said Jojo. Good to see a balanced view of players. This emotive term “traitors” is quite bizarre. Do people who leave your work place for better pay and seemingly more ambitious companies get called traitors?

  • nicky

    It’s been my experience following Arsenal FC, to witness many of the mighty failing during their final year at our great Club.
    Henry, Fabregas and Adebayor to name but a few.
    Most of us were not unhappy at the time of the departures. The minds of the first two were already wearing another club’s shirt during their final season, while Adebayor was plain idle (as my old RSM in the Army used to call me).
    None of them really prospered or were happy after leaving Arsenal. The grass wasn’t that greener. 😉

  • Jojo

    So flamini OK for bolting to Milan at his first chance, after his only true standout season, where he rode the bench was let go with no suitors and trained with us and we resigned him?

    But cesc no? After several seasons of good service and likely he could have forced through a move earlier than he did?

    Arteta, should he not be viewed as a traitor by evertonians for coming to us, and by Rangers fans before?

    Meh, none including cesc should be vilified. .it’s professional football..a very high stakes career with a limited window and limited opportunity to maximize on field success and earnings.

    Players make the decisions they think are best for them professionally at the anything else if may work out it may not, or it could be a mixed bag. And the reality is they are always just one injury, one next hottest young thing available, one manager change, or a few more years of age..from being surplus to requirements no matter how much they gave in terms of service .

    I see nothing wrong with deciding to move to what you see as a better job, football or otherwise. .we likely all do the same

  • Hey @John. Your views are yours and mine are just mine. I do not apologise for being ‘dramatic’ and I may have done many things, but my earlier post (if you care to read it) did not show that I have written him or Chelsea off. I was only speaking of ‘what could have been’. Simple.

    Talking about friends, how many of his ‘friends’ in Barca could stick up for him in his hour of trouble with the club. He clearly had a problem or else why would they have declared him surplus to requirements and dumped him into the transfer market? True friends believe in you when nobody would. They will stick out their necks for you and do the needful to see you succeed. Wenger did these and more. Or maybe my definition of a true friend is too ‘dramatic’? Wenger stuck out his neck when Cesc was only 16 and gave him a shirt in the first eleven. In a team of Arsenals pedigree. If that is run of the mill to you, happens everytime, I dont know. For me Wenger gave him what none of those ‘friends’ could give him, something special. An opportunity or a lifetime. How many players, probably as special as Cesc, or maybe more special, never saw the light of prominence that he did. Just because nobody believed in them like Wenger believed in Cesc Fabregas. That guy owed it to AW, and the way to pay him was not leaving the club the way he left. Maybe Wenger tried a bit too hard to save him from himself. But then….what will be will be.

  • Dave C

    Comparing football to someone working at a company is not really the same thing, is it? To deny sport is different, at least in some way, is a bit naive. Imagine an Apple employee having his friends from Google coming to work and ripping of his apple shirt and forcing a Google shirt on him. While you make some valid points, this comparison isn’t one of them.

  • Jojo

    @ Stan, first off all no need to even reference the word apologize, it’s a message board for the exchange of views, of course you shouldn’t apologize nor should anyone expect you to, not sure why it was necessary mentioning that.

    Look you likely have never spoken to fabregas, much less had a meaningful conversation with him and his inner circle, nor discussed or know the complexities of a person’s motivations if you can’t see how illogical it is and yes over dramatic it is to state as fact that wenger is cesc’s one true friend, then so be it.

    Re: barca and friends, firstly I said friends in football “including barca” and also referenced friends outside of football, to pretend to know the totality of who his friends are, the nature of their relationships and what’s true or not is just silly and arrogant.

    But to answer your question re: cesc surplus to needs at barca..why yes he was, that’s kind of the point, it’s the nature of the business and I’m pretty sure that all professionals in the business understand that, and the risks with moving and yes the risks with staying..some decisions work out, some dont, and some may work out in a way that matters more to them and less to you.

    And why didn’t barca players stand up for him in his time of need? Lot’s of projection there but It’s a very simple answer. First of all you don’t have a clue what was said or not said behind the scenes, and secondly, more logically, again, it’s the nature of the business. They all likely understand that players come and go and they could be next and let the business does what it does. Being a friend and not interfering in a player’s and club’s personal business with each other are not mutually the real world at least.

    Maybe in the pantomime world, a true friend in say Pique for example should be out speaking to the press saying barca shouldn’t let my childhood friend go (sounds silly right?) While more likely in reality they will hug and say something like “ah well good luck at chelsea sorry it didn’t work out here professionally, but that’s business, but hey lets get the kids and wives together next week and plan that vacation we will take together in the summer, oh and I’ll see you next national team training camp”

    To suggest footballers cannot compartmentalize the nature of their business and their friendships is just silly.

    What he owed wenger etc etc is up to each own’s opinion..

    My only issue is the silly statement about wenger being his one true friend, that has no basis in fact..

    And while you have the right to say he stabbed wenger in the heart, I think it’s silly and way dramatic.

  • Jojo

    Oh by the way, having a lot of experience working with folks in Silicon valley…people jump ALL THE TIME between the apples, googles, Facebooks, Microsofts etc…so that point doesn’t work. Actually these companies fight for a lot of the same talent and try to out-incentive each other with higher salary offers, better perks and flexibility etc to entice workers and the talent generally makes the decisions which suit THEM best at the time and it isn’t uncommon to jump between big tech companies including jumping back to where you were before for a better offer…so that doesn’t wash.

  • John

    I know you like to bull our players but the reality is that loyalty put aside Fabregas was and still is a far better player than Flamini and Arteta .The word was that Arsenal had first refusal from Barcelona for his services but Wenger didnt want to spend some of THE CLUBS money on him so he went to work elsewhere.That is not his fault??

  • Al

    I was one of those happy Wenger didn’t re-sign him. And nothing has happened to change my mind since. If anything, I’m happier that Wenger has been proven right. Yet again.

  • Al

    For anyone saying we should not rejoice at his loss of form, temporary or permanent, have they forgotten how derided the manager was, by all and sundry, for not signing him back when he had first refusal. If anyone wanted their two minutes of fame all they had to do was criticise Wenger for not signing Fabregas back. They conveniently forget that it was Wenger who saw the talent, nurtured and turned him into the player he turned out to be. I’ve no doubt in my mind had fabregas stayed with Arsenal he’d have gone on to become an even bigger player than he could ever be at Barcelona or Chelsea. So, when it turns out the manager was right, we should rightfully (and gleefully) point out that the manager was right in giving him a miss this time around.

  • John

    How has he been proven right???

  • finsbury

    Loooooooo 🙂 🙂 🙂 ooooool!

    “Better then Arteta and Flamini”

    That’s quite a climb down from “better then Özil”.
    Careful that you don’t slip, into a pitch side pit.

  • Jojo

    Exactly John, how has he been proven right?
    The whole premise of this article is bizarre.

    Since it starts with and focuses mainly on his time at Chelsea..Fabregas has been there for one season and about a third of a second season. In his first season he was league and league cup champions (two things he never won with Arsenal). Not only that but he was extremely influential in Chelsea’s success, notching around 18 league assists a couple off the record, touching the ball, passing % stats and creating chances the most or near it for the entire season, including supposedly during his second half slump.

    The thing is, it’s widely accepted Mourinho reverted to type in the second half of the season and played defensively with 1-0 wins the ideal, so is it not logical fabregas’ production would decrease? Yes you mention it as a possibility but dismiss it just as quickly throughout including saying everyone else was at a higher level. Despite this if you watched he played well, worked hard and was tactically very sound and praised for it (something the article accuses him of not being good at re Barca), especially as the team strategy shifted. So anyway you slice it, his first season was a success, and no matter how the article tries to diminish it.

    Yet if the premise of this article is a praise of Wenger’s foresight, shouldn’t Mourinho receive credit for his foresight in getting Fabregas as his creative midfield linchpin in a title winning season?

    Also going along with the premise of this article means accepting some triumph of Wenger’s vision and indisputable proof of Cesc’s (chelsea’s) decline, and judging Cesc’s season and a third at Chelsea based only on that latter third. That’s strange .

    The premise of the article means that this is fact and everything is proven. I know I’ve seen the ups and downs of football so many times, and I personally wouldn’t write off Cesc’s season at Chelsea much less the seasons remaining in his career there. Are you guys willing to state as fact that this is it, this is as good as it gets for Cesc and chelsea and it’s impossible for he and them to pick up form? And be willing to answer to that and this article at the end of the season if they do?

    There’s still two thirds of the season left, and several ways for it to still be “successful” for chelsea and fabregas personally. Form can come and go. Are we saying he can’t find form again? A team of chelsea’s talent can’t go on a run? And even if they don’t do great in the league is it impossible, now, at this stage that they couldn’t yet still go on a great run and finish high?

    And beyond the league win some cups? (If I recall correctly it wasn’t that long ago they won the champions league during a season which was a disaster in the league, a champions league title no one gave them a chance to win).

    And beyond this season, since this article is about foresight and decline, is it impossible that as quickly as chelsea went off the boil this season, they couldn’t rebound next season? Especially with their resources?

    And for Cesc specifically, he’s 28, yes he has a lot of miles, but unlike say a rooney, his game never relied heavily on pace and athleticism. Seems you guys have hammered the final nail into his chelsea career based on one third of his second season only. Quite bizarre.

    The general theme of this blog in the wake of alexis’ injury is that you can’t predict these things even though he had a hamstring concern and is one of if not the most played player in the premier league considering expenditures for club and country and plays at a high intensity always…

    Despite that, we are told you cannot predict these things. Yet this article, to me at least, directly or indirectly depending on how you view it, predicts so many things by saying this is a triumph of wenger’s foresight and Cesc’s terminal decline… basically writing off Cesc first season with them (which was ahm, just a few months ago), and saying with 2/3rds of this season left (and not to mention probably multiple seasons to come with chelsea) that everything has been decided already with regards to fabregas as a player.


  • Pedro

    JoJo… An excellent defence of fabregas but, IMO, his time is up at Chelsea, time to move on. He is playing crap and I will be surprised if he gets back to a good level at Chelsea…. Can’t even see him being a regular for Chelsea anymore.
    I think wenger is being proved right more and more every week in his decision not to re sign him. As for Chelsea , let’s enjoy this moment. Their obnoxious manager sounds increasingly desperate in his ramblings during his TV interviews. Great viewing though.

  • ColG

    This is not really an article about Fabregas.

    Wenger is currently being slated pretty much everywhere for lack of foresight (1) failing to provide cover / an alternative for Coquelin (2) playing Sanchez in the red zone or whatever resulting in an arguably predictable injury (3) endless injuries to players proven to be injury prone which apparently are a complete surprise – and an overall worse rate than most of the rivals (4) meltdowns resulting in losing to inferior opposition which according to Wenger only happen once in a blue moon – yet seem to happen with monotonous regularity at Arsenal.

    So, what better way of deflecting attention than write an article about what brilliant foresight Wenger has? The problem is, Fabregas is history now. He is Chelsea’s problem – irrelevant to the crisis currently enveloping the team.

    I am not saying Wenger is guilty as charged, or that he isn’t still capable of moments of great genius. But what I see is a man in decline, over recent seasons the often rather predictable pratfalls seem to be increasing, the moments of brilliance fewer and further between. He deserves enormous credit for what he has achieved, but his star is on the wane. He is at the point where his legacy is beginning to be compromised by what is actually happening. Arsenal will not win the league this season – yes, two points off the top etc etc, and if Coquelin and Sanchez were fit (and 2 or 3 others) I would have some confidence they might stay there, but right now I have very little. They are as far from winning the CL as they have been for a decade. A cup is possible, but right now I would be satisfied with 4th place.

  • Jeremy

    I was mad when flamini left. I think the difference between flamini and fabregas is the former fulfilled his contractual obligations and left whereas the latter signed a long term improved contract and then agitated for a move about a year later and by pledging his preference to Barcelona only he ensured arsenal received about half what he was worth.

  • Rantetta

    On one hand Mr Wenger has stated that having Özil means he doesn’t need Fabregas. On another hand I’ve read that the Chelsea manager was pushing to get Fab from about 12 months before he did. The third hand see the Presstitutes pushing their usual thing against Arsenal, i.e. Whatever Arsenal do, whomever they buy, is wrong/useless. The same Presstitutes who have hated the successful young players Arsenal brought into the team once the Ems was built. The same Presstitutes who declared Arsenal were like the Titanic, and would never make it into the champions league. The same Presstitutes who continually ignore the injuries deliberately inflicted upon Arsenal’s players. the same Presstitutes who twist and deride everything Arsenal does, inc. perennial destabilisation tactics, which some on here BUY, hook, line and sinker.

    RvP’s “You guys” statement was pretty sickening. However, Fabregas was “clever”. Cesc sought to keep his reputation intact. His “politicking” allows the buyers of the press narrative to continue with their stories, not only for him to get away from Arsenal for the cheapest possible price, but again when Barca decided to discard him.

    There have been strong rumours that it’s Fab who has caused the most unrest among Chelsea’s players, which he’s been quick to deny, officially, but if you read “The Special One”, you’ll see how the Chelsea manager’s “tactics” could never suit Cesc. In reading this book you’ll see how much manipulation of the press that manager practises, and that anything said to media has to be controlled by him, and that at RM the tactics employed by the One destabilised the team,time and time again.

    Do you really think Cesc wants to play DM? Is he capable of that? When did you see Cesc playing No 10 for Chelsea, or make a tackle that wasn’t a foul? for someone that’s from Barca’s academy, how do you see Fab following the discipline displayed by Xavi and Inesta? Have you read this?:

    Wenger demonstrably gets the best out of his players. The One is the very antithesis of that!

  • Al

    There’s absolutely nothing bizarre about this article. Has fabregas flopped at Chelsea? A resounding yes! Unless of course his form over 6 games counts as success. Did he flop at Barcelona? Another resounding yes. Has he managed to reproduce the form he was in at Arsenal anywhere else? A firm no. Just like Falcao who was great at AM, he never hit the same heights at Monaco nor utd. Not even at current club Chelsea. We can’t keep harping on about his previous form/exploits; he has flopped at his last two clubs. So has fabregas, as sufficiently covered & reported by various publications cited in this article. Wenger, on what we have seen of the player these last 3 or 4 seasons, was right in giving him a wide berth. So let’s move on…

    Arsenal and Wenger will never do anything right in the media. Arsenal players take a selfie, all hell breaks loose, despite that many many clubs did it before and still do it. A ref fails to send an Arsenal player off in a debatable foul, that ref is almost hounded out of football. A Norwich player deliberately shoves one of the best players in the league into a camera pit, potentially injuring him in the process, and noone in the media bats an eyelid. Arsenal catch a flight to amother team’s stadium…, well you get the idea.

    Wenger got slated left right and centre last Jan for not signing a monster DM, choosing instead to recall the relatively “unknown” Coq. He gets slaughtered for choosing to go for an untried player who couldn’t even cut it in the championship. Roll on a few months down the line, Wenger gets lambasted for failing to provide adequate cover for…, wait a minute, the same useless player who wasn’t deemed good enough for the championship! By the same people! Surely something doesn’t add up here? Humble pie time, anyone? Well, nothing needs to add up, where it concerns Arsenal or Wenger.

  • Al

    “Wenger demonstrably gets the best out of his players.”
    Spot on. Shouldn’t Wenger be getting credit for bringing the best out of fabregas, when two of, if you believe the media, the world’s best managers (who we are often told are light years ahead of and better than Wenger) failed to get the best out of him. To demonstrate that further, Wenger brought the best out of fabregas when he hadn’t even reached his peak years in football terms; his peak years were at barce and chelski, but his best years were at Arsenal. Doesn’t that tell us something about the managers’ ability? I think it does. He has worked with the world’s best managers for both club and country, yet his best years were with the gunners. Tells you all you need to know.

  • thierryhenry22

    Out of all of them (Nasri, Adebayor, Song, Hleb etc) i’ve always felt Fabregas and RVP to be the worst. The way they left the club way was incredibly fake and full of fluffy words. At least the others were honest about wanting to join other ‘dream teams’. Fabregas especially, could have waited a season or two longer. Instead he left for a very low fee considering his form at the time- leaving Wenger and Arsenal in the lurch.

  • If people don’t like to admit the greatness of Wenger, it’s okay. If they are uncomfortable to even think Wenger IS the one who brought the best out of Cesc, and that his best years were at Arsenal, that’s okay too. The facts speak for themselves incontrovertibly. Cesc Fabregas can NEVER hit the heights he did before he elected to betray Arsenal. Struggle with it all you want, Wenger was the best thing that happened to him and he (Fabregas) abused and misused the privilege.

    Wenger was the one true friend he had and he betrayed him.

  • @Al er, how can you say Fabregas has flopped at Chelsea when he was instrumental in winning the league? A quite bizarre statement.

  • Yellow Canary, I think that a player that costs quite a bit of money should be expected to function at a higher level for more than 75% of the first season – which is all Chelsea have had from Cesc, so it seems a fairly reasonable concept to me.

  • finsbury

    I thought the plundits told me that it was hazard who won GazCorp the league?

    I’m ignoring Begovic and other keepers throwing the ball into their own nets here.

  • finsbury

    How can someone say the F word has flip flopped at GazCorp?

    Might have something to do with the easy observation that the F Word can no longer run?

    Sounds harsh and I don’t want to be a hypocrite, haha, but it’s true: this running malarky is slightly important in modern football where players cover twice the ground of yesteryear. Even more important in CM.

    Perhaps if he hadn’t had a bruised bone from an easy to spot yet uncalled hack and hadn’t then rushed himself back for a WC (understandably) then his fitness wouldn’t have followed the Owen/Falcao/ etc. curve. There is some context and evidence here to help people understand.

  • Jojo

    Lol how silly..the guy in his first season was arguably the most influential midfielder in the entire premier league…leading by some way in assists (a couple off the league record)and at or near the lead in touches, chances created, passing efficiency, etc…

    They and he won the premier league and league cup. The BARCLAYS PREMEIR LEAGUE…

    By any observer view and probably mentioned here several times on this site, Mourinho reverted to type and completely changed his team strategy and tactics in the second half to go into lock down mode..yet the logic escapes that fabregas’ individual production would go down? And he was being widely praised during that second half of the season for his defensive work and tactical discipline..meaning he was still playing well for what was their now prime strategy. These are things stats especially attacking stats won’t show.

    And wait what? You should be able to expect more than 75% of a player based on cost? Does any player have 100% of their potential realized throughout a season? Or in the real world does form dip and peak, fatigue and other factors creep in etc.? There’s no constant in terms of performance especially over the course of a season, for any player probably bar the messis…that’s just not realistic.

    I’m sure you defend our players during periods of poor form and don’t hold them to bizarre all or nothing 100% performance standards for an entire season, nor work their price tag into justifying such a bizarre stance.

    And since no one has really answered. .if this is about foresight..does Mourinho not get credited with having the foresight to build a title winning campaign with fabregas, as the constant creative hub? Or are we going to belittle a premier league win as just that, to fit this narrative? And say yeah all that counts is the first 3 months of this present season…nonsense.

    Quite how someone can describe the best performing creative midfielder last season in their romp to the title, a flop, is just weird…even more strange is saying his chelsea experience overall is a flop, when his first season was very successful individually and for the team (winning to titles he never won with us), and only a third of his second season has gone (with lots still left to play for in multiple comps) and he still has more seasons at chelsea in total..yet you guys think everything is decided …you may just have to be reminded of this in the near future…

    Lastly since again this is about wengers foresight …have you guys ever considered just as quickly as cesc settled at chelsea being instrumental in their charge to the premier League (I still find it hilarious how what is the main priority for every club in the league is being dismissed as ho hum), he could have likely even settled easier in a club, system and with a manager he was more familiar with, and could have made the difference in winning a title? Just curious if you’ve considered the other side of this foresight argument in that respect?

    Probably not..

  • Jojo

    @ Tony, I doubt you’ll find many gooners, even the staunchest of wenger supporters who would honestly say that ozil who cost record money, “functioned at a higher level for more than 75% of the first season”.

    Whats your thoughts, opinion and account for any differences in conclusions between the two situations on that please ?

    And will this be the standard you will hold all our big money signings to going forward as to what are reasonable performanxe expectations in their first seasons?

  • Rantetta

    Has our Cesc picked up certain plays usually performed by Ashley Williams, and formerly by Bolton/Blackburn/Stoke/ManU?

    This “play” is to wait around for a free kick… And then run up and smash the ball into row Z – via someone’s head (whether the players head’s close to the grass or in its usual position matters not).

    At the end of last season Fab got sent off for this heroic act. His employers wonderfully got his sentence reduced, as had been the case with Mr Matic, who’d previously lashed out with a kick to an opponent who’d somehow dispossessed him.

    Matic also miraculously had his sentence reduced, following his managers 45 min. appearance on Sky’s Sunday morn prog, where said manager claimed how everything goes against him and asked what has my team ever done wrong?

    The Sky peeps didn’t challenge him or show the evidence of his players terrible behaviour, but allowed him to slag of Wenger as usual. All very cosy.

    Of course, not everyone will have noticed that our own OG12 gets sent off for far, far less, and don’t even talk about any sentence reduction for Arsenal players, even if the video shows minimal or no contact, or that the whole thing was prefaced by Arsenals opponents.
    (Granted, Gabriel’s sentence was reduced, ostensibly due to Costa having committed multiple infractions during that game at da bridge, but even The Sun haven’t mentioned that Arsenal were robbed of 3 points, and that even Santi had to be sent off to secure ‘the right result’).

    So now we see our former Fab attempting to decapitate his team mate!
    Wass dat about?

    There was a CC game against Wolves years ago, where Fab gave someone a good kick right at the end of the game, but Wolves had been dire in their attempts to injure the Arsenal players. That’s the only time that comes to mind where Fab really lashed out when he was an Arsenal player, and he got away with that one. However, he had his limbs attacked plentifully while he played for us.

    Özil had little time off before and during his time at Arsenal, and he carried injuries and continued to get kicked. (The BM game was classic – his German team mates crocking him within 30 seconds of kick off, the plundits calling him lazy).

    Özil prays, rather than sulks! Whilst injured he done plenty in the gym and has come back stronger. And they still kick him, invairably, unpunished.

    And he doesn’t kick the ball at opponents or his own teammates when he’s not getting his way.


  • Yellow Canary

    @Tony Attwood, so you know the exact percentage of Fabs’ performance levels? To suggest that one of the most influential players in the league, a key component to Chelsea winning the league was a flop is just crazy. If you measure our players by your criteria I wonder how many “flops” we’d have.

  • Jojo

    @ Rantetta,

    I’m not really THAT interested much in the morality debate here (occasionally some non football or human interest context is interesting in footballer discussions)..personally I don’t think it’s my place to judge the character of a person (note that’s more than just being a player) period, much less based on his actions as a footballer (especially during a competitive match) or even beyond the football field..I’ve never met them, never spoken to them, don’t know how they treat their family, friends, the everyday person on the street, what they do for charity etc etc etc. I don’t care who prays and who doesn’t..and using hyperbolic words like “tried to decapitate”, doesn’t make for a serious discussion on what (I thought) the actual topic is here.

    This discussion wasn’t about liking or disliking Fabregas. Personally even as a player I could care less about him, but the premise of the article and using as the title suggests, “one player” to explain relative foresight and decline, is very shaky when the vast majority of that said player’s experience during the debated period has been very individually and team, successful.

    What kind of alternate reality suggests that Fabregas has been a flop so far at Chelsea?

    Especially when there is still so much left to go in his Chelsea experience this season and beyond this season, information that is completely relevant to an accurate discussion with complete information to judge the foresight and decline referenced. Hence why my first post on this was asking isn’t this pronouncement quite premature. And still no-one answers if foresight is part of the equation, does Mourinho get a credit for strong foresight in building his midfield around Fabregas in a title winning season? Yes he and they are struggling currently, but do you really think they would trade better form and points now, for that title last season? Of course not. So last season matter completely in this discussion of this “one player’s” time at Chelsea.

    Oh and P.S. all that context you used to describe Ozil’s situation affecting his performance is entirely FAIR. And precisely proving my point, in that it’s inexact subjective silliness to say as fact a) what the exact percentage of performance levels are/were in the first place, especially from this arm-chair vantage point and b) to hold to some frankly crazy standard of 75% of higher level function (whatever that means) in a player’s first season..(which is often accepted as a settling in season at that)

    And as I asked before are we willing to apply that very same standard for our players? OF COURSE NOT, as you proved.

    Because in the real world not only is it inexact, its unreasonable to expect it. Players aren’t robots, that’s why form and level of function is never constant. There are so many variables that affect it, and each situation is unique.. from fatigue, to injury (including from being kicked or not), to games played, to pressure and mental strain, to national team commitments, to settling in a new environment, to off the field stuff like family problems, emotional state, language so on and so forth.

  • Jojo

    Exactly @ Yellow Canary, not only is the standard kinda crazy, but there’s no way they will apply it to our players as we would also then have many “flops”

    I’m not sure why Fabregas in a very successful season for him, is being labelled a flop for that first season (Tony’s stated period of standard for high level performance) that was very successful for him individually and for his team who won two titles he never won with us.

    Also why does everything have to be so black and white?

    Maybe both Wenger and Mourinho could have had good foresight, no? Mourinho’s foresight in getting a type of creative player (with league familiarity) that was missing from his first season back at chelsea, and that he needed to get the title(s), and who is still young enough to provide years of good service….


    Wenger’s good foresight in recognizing that maybe he didn’t need him (Cesc) because even though Ozil (which we invested heavily in) may have been relatively struggling for more than his first season (see how silly that 75% high level in your first season standard sounds now?), the long term calculation could have been that he would eventually acclimate and flourish like he is now, and have several years of good service for Arsenal at the top, and Fabregas may have interfered with that process.

    Why can’t both have had good foresight? Or does that not fit the over simplified narrative of us good/smart, them stupid/bad?

    What’s clear is that both players (Ozil and Cesc) won’t just be valued by their managers in isolated periods of poor form..Maybe managers unlike seemingly the experts here, understand that form comes and goes (sometimes in extremes) and evaluate the “success” of players over a longer time period than seemingly here, where about a third of a season is apparently enough to evaluate, even though 2/3rds of the season is left to come and further season(s) beyond that.