Fabregas should play right midfield in Europe next season
As written in an earlier piece, the number one positive theme of Arsenal's season 2004/05 is the extensive experience gained by a number of awesomely talented young players thanks to injuries and a small squad.
Senderos and Van Persie are getting better game by game and have proven they are Arsenal starter's of the future. This is a big plus for Wenger, and in terms of Senderos relegating Cygan to number four choice centreback, is the plus that Arsenal fans have longed for.
(If anything can be learned from this season Mr Wenger, can it please be: No more Cygan. Just look at the effect he had on Kolo Toure who became a nervous wreck on the pitch when playing alongside Pascal- Bayern fans don't know how lucky they were!).
But the player that deserves most praise is the seventeen year old with the footballing mind of a 37 year old. In Cardiff for the Charity Shield, I watched on as Francesc Fabregas dribbled and passed with brilliant precision that had even Roy Keane patting him on the back. But I thought this would be a rare sighting for the young Spaniard.
Not quite, he was required for almost all of Arsenal's games up until December and the introduction of a rotation with the 20 year old Flamini.
With danger of burn out, Fabregas has been increasingly rested until the last six weeks.
Now he is back in the first team line up due to an injury to Freddie Ljungberg. Instead of playing in the centre, he has moved out onto right midfield.
Fabregas and right midfield may be the tactical combination choice of the season by Wenger. I think the solution to Arsenal's lost right midfielder in Europe has been solved.
In contrast to Ljungberg, Fabregas has consistently moved inwards to support Gilberto and Vieira in the centre of the pitch. The goal aganst Spurs came from Fabregas drifting into the centre and then picking out a fantastic through ball for Reyes to run onto.
Ljungberg has many strengths but the ability to be a playmaker in this way is not one of them. Moreover, its not Vieira's or Gilberto's strength to finesse through balls like Fabregas can deliver.
Ljungberg is someone who relies on the passes of others- he is not a great passer himself.
This is evident in games in Europe where Freddie often gets lost in games on the right hand-side and is badly ineffective as a result.
This won't happen to Fabregas, who from a right midfield position will move inside to support and bolster the centre midfield. In Europe where teams will come and swamp the midifeld, Vieira and Gilberto will appreciate the helping hand. The fact that Fabregas is the type of player who very rarely gives away possession is another factor behind his need in Europe next year.
Let me stress- first goal Freddie is very much rated by this writer. But Fabregas has showed to me that in big games his strengths are greater than Freddie's. Look at the Chelsea game where his ability to move and play in the centre immeasurably helped Vieira and Gilberto against Chelsea's three man central midfield.
I would look to accomodate Ljungberg on left midfield. This is where he won us the double in 2001/02 with surging inside runs onto though passes followed by a finish on his favoured right foot. With Pires being increasingly rotated, and Reyes 'doing an Henry' and slowly being converted into a central striker (this writer hopes Reyes convinces himself that Highbury is where his future should lie), the position on the left side is open for Freddie to get back into.
So there you go Mr Wenger: try Fabregas on the right hand side in the Champs league next year- with Gilberto and Vieira in the centre- and I believe Arsenal can at last realise their long overdue potential in European competition.
Moreover, as with the introduction of Senderos showing that Ledley King (very good player) is no longer required, the need to overspend on the excellent Shaun Wright-Phillips has also diminished.
Instead, the money can be spent on an experienced striker to play in big champs league matches (Govou of Lyon/Trez of Juve/Luque of Depor/Owen of Madrid).
Player to watch tonight: Sol Campbell. Wenger has to accomodate him sometime before the cup final. If he plays, will it see Toure shifting to right back and Lauren finding himself on the bench? We'll wait and see..