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Monday, May 02, 2005

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..


Anonymous Anonymous said...

agree that we need new right midtfielder, and fabregas could be the answer. But wtf, Ljungberg on left, Either Pires has to show his old form, but ideally Reyes will make it his position with someone like trezeguet, baptista, adriano(I wish) finally giving Henry a suitable directstyle partner. Ljungberg, good but far from world class, in other words, not good enough to be more than squadplayer for a top european club. the fact that he is regular at Arsenal is one of many factors why we currently are not a top european side.

5/02/2005 11:39 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with most of your verdicts, especially regarding the progress of Senderos and Van Persie. But what is this vendetta against Pascal Cygan?? To blame Cygan for Kolo Toure playing 'like a nervous wreck' is just bizarre. Kolo has had a pretty poor season which is probably due to Sol being out with injury all season. Defensively we have suffered from this all season, with Lauren having had an off season as well. The defensive player who has really stood this season has been Pascal Cygan, alongside our two left backs, Cole and Clichy. When the rest of the defence line has been shite, Cygan has been the noteworthy exception in several games. My conclusion is that he has finally settled in! This will become evident if you take the time to analyse a few random games - if you have taped some.

5/02/2005 12:08 pm

Blogger Skippy said...

I haven't seen enough of Fabregas to comment on this.

I do agree that Arsenal have some talented youngsters, they first came to my attention in Carling Cup against Man City.

I think that Arsenal have done well in the premiership this season, despite having so many youngsters.

5/02/2005 10:11 pm

Blogger Abdul said...

I have been hugely impressed with the performances of Fabregas this season and some of the other young emerging players at Highbury.

But if Arsenal are going to challenge for the Champions League - they cant afford to be dependent on teenagers like Fabregas. Arsenal need to sign established, world class stars if they are going to make an impact on Europe's premier competition next season. At the risk of parroting Alan Hansen, you don't win [the Champions League] with kids.

5/03/2005 12:24 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wenger should use Campbell & Sanderos as Center backs with Lauren & Cole fight & left back respectively. I know many of you will say why Lauren? He is slow etc... but do you know how creative he is going forward especially when he has help with Febragas in front of him? Toure should be on the bench and used as a utility player, he is fast, strong and can be used in almost any position.

5/04/2005 2:06 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont think i agree with you there. Cesc is not confortable on the right and always drifts into the middle where he wants to be. Although he is young and all i dont think he wants to or can be effective as a winger, he is a playmaker (even at this tender age it is more than apparent). He needs to partner Vieira in the middle, this might mean a 5 man midfield ( vieira, Gilberto, Cesc,Freddie, Reyes) with Henry one out. With a new quality midfielder coming in (probably right sided, i think Cesc will replace gilberto and get Vieira to get back into the DM position. I think Cygan really has had a bad wrap this year. He hasnt done that bad when he has been playing, we have more clean sheets with him in then we get with sol playing. Having said that Sol must be in the middle of the defence with Senderos, we need to buy one more first class defender. Get toure as a utility (2nd right back, 2nd centreback, 2nd defensivce midfielder or even on right midfield. You might recall when Toure played in the pre-season tournamen in 2002 (the year we signed him) he played on the right as a wing back or midfielder and he was a absolute terror to the opposition. If he can get his touch back, i think he is best suited to being a utility.

5/04/2005 10:02 am

Blogger T said...

Enjoyed reading your quality comments.

I'm happy for Cygan that he has supporters. For me he spreads unease amongst the defence- if not amongst me- and this is even when he does have a good game.

The reason why: he gets knocked off the ball very easily and carries himself with a lack of confidence.

More importantly, when the opposition see Cygan's name they gain confidence and consequently belief.

Like Stepanovs, he just is not good enough for the Arsenal back line. Good defender, but not good enough.

Re Toure, he will displace Lauren sooner rather than later. He is a better defender; is a better pyhsical presence when defending/attacking set-pieces; and is as capable of surging runs as Lauren.

I say this as a big fan of Lauren. He has hunger and consistency and very rarely has let the team down. But I believe he will become a utility player come next season.

Re Vieira: For Vieira to be at his best he needs Gilberto more than Fabregas. Read my preview of the FA cup semi for my explanation.

However, Francesc also needs to be in the team for big games. This is why the experiment with him on the right hand side may be revealing Wenger's future intentions for the team. So far the experiment is working.

5/04/2005 6:12 pm


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