Posts Tagged ‘Cesc Fabregas’

Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Robin van Persie. Arsenal v. AZ Alkmaar. Champions League 2009. Arsenal v. AZ Alkmaar. Champions League 2009. Photo credit: Phil Cole/Getty Images Europe.

Here’s a stat: the last time Arsenal played a full season without Robin van Persie, they went undefeated in the league. 26 wins, 12 draws, 90 points, and a trophy.

Nice thought, that. “There’s hope yet,” it seems to say, “perhaps more hope than you ever imagined.” But as much as I’d like to be known as the pseudo-Nostradamus ITK, even I have to admit this is a facetious comparison. The Invincibles were a once-in-a-lifetime kind of team, and it would be hubristic to expect this current generation of Gunners to replicate that 2003/04 season, Van Persie or No Persie.

RvP’s only significance here is that with him leaves the last lynchpin of this post-Invincibles generation, the Johnny-come-latelies, the heirs who could never quite escape the long shadows of their deified predecessors. Disbanded, the team built around Cesc Fabregas. The team of frustrated talents and perennial disappointment. The team whose underachievements have been well-documented by all and sundry, and I don’t want to get into that here.

All I want to do is to pose a simple question: How will we remember them? When they write the history of Arsenal, one hundred years from now, will this silver generation be just another blip on the map? Will their names ring any bells? Will we tell the stories of the nearly-almost-theres?



Many are already hailing the Santi Cazorla signing as the deal of the summer, but what a saga it has been. Don’t get me wrong – I am quite excited to see him don the red and white like every other gooner this season. He’s long been hailed the best player outside the La Liga duopoly of that club and that other club by Spanish fans and will somewhat fit into the Cesc shaped hole left in our squad since the summer of 2011. That’s how special of a player he is.

Cazorla started his professional career at his local club Real Oviedo before joining Villarreal months before turning 18. He worked up the reserves side at the club and made his first team debut for the side in November 2003. The following season, he joined newly promoted Recreativo on loan and pulled the side to a historic 8th placed finish in La Liga. He was proclaimed the Spanish player of the year 2007 by Don Balón after his brilliant performances that season. His return to Villareal the following season saw him help the club place 2nd place in La Liga ahead of Catalan giants Barcelona (07-08). When Real Madrid approached him for his signature in August 2008, he publicly rejected their advances:

“There are many other things in football besides Real Madrid. It’s clear that it is possible to say “no” to them. There is no doubt that they are a great team, but I also feel very satisfied and valued at my club. I hope I can continue growing at Villarreal because I am young and I’m only starting off with the national team.” (HITC)

However, when newly rich Málaga came calling in the summer of 2011, Villarreal found it difficult to turn down the €21M they offered for his services. Villarreal had to compensate for the huge debt they had accumulated and the Spaniard was seen as a more expendable asset than the club’s other star player, Giuseppe Rossi. This was also a record signing for Málaga and by far the biggest deal of the 10 signings they made that summer.

Senna, Villarreal’s captain, compared his departure to that of Villarreal’s finger being cut off. But it was worse than that. The departure of Cazorla ripped out Villarreal’s heart and sent them to the 2nd Division at the end of the 2010-2011 season. They felt the blow even harder when he helped Málaga qualify for the Champions League the following season. Despite this, Cazorla wanted out of the club. Player wages went unpaid during the campaign and promises made by their new owners and management were broken. Cazorla was one of four players (van Nistelrooy, Rondon and Mathijsen the others) who threatened to make a formal complaint against Málaga to the Spanish FA in July.

When Arsenal showed an interest in the crafty midfielder earlier in the summer, Cazorla consulted former Gunners Robert Pires and Cesc Fàbregas over the transfer and was encouraged by what he heard.

“Robert played with me at Villarreal. He knew about the rumours of me coming here and always encouraged me to sign,” he said. “He told me it was a very good club and I was going to enjoy London, the city, and the move.

“The same with Cesc Fàbregas. He said this was a big club and that I was going to be very happy here, he said I would adapt easily. And I can feel that.” (Guardian)

The midfielder has 45 caps for Spain to date and was a member of the squads that won the Euros in 2008 and this past summer.

Today, I’m joined by Málaga resident and Arsenal fan Robbie Ducker (@RobbieDucker) who has followed the Cazorla saga closely.

1. What was your initial reaction when you heard Cazorla was going to join Arsenal?

I was very excited (sad from a Málaga point of view) because he is probably the most naturally gifted player in La Liga outside of Madrid/Barca.

2. How much of an impact do you think his departure will have on Málaga?

I think it will be a huge loss for Málaga because he was at the center of most their attacks. I hope someone will step up and fill his shoes (maybe Isco). This is like Arsenal losing Cesc or RvP. He was clearly their best player and influential in them achieving Champions league football.

3. What are the strengths and weaknesses you have observed of Cazorla? Both on and off the pitch.

His strengths are his passing, his creativity, his pace, two footed, he would get past players with ease and leave them chasing shadows and he’s also a set-piece specialist. I remember watching Málaga vs Real Madrid, and it was level until Santi scored a brilliant FK in the 90 min to win it. His biggest weakness is probably that sometimes he would try to do too much on his own.

4. How did Cazorla grow as a player while at Málaga?

I think he’s become more versatile as he can play in most position in the midfield. At Málaga he played on both wings, the CAM position and even as a DM on occasions.

5. How do you think Cazorla will fit into the Arsenal team?

Very well. He’s a Spaniard and plays like one. Passing is very important to him, which will suit Arsenal’s passing game very well.

6. How do you see Cazorla coping in England and the Premier League?

He’s small so might struggle with the physicality of some teams. But when Arsenal has the ball (which is most of the time) he will be fine and will control the tempo of the game just fine.

7. How do you think Cazorla’s relationships with Arteta and Pires will help in Cazorla’s adjustment to playing outside of Spain for the first time in his career? 

I think his relationship with them will more help him in living outside of Spain for the first time, because on the pitch he will soon be regarded as one of the best in the EPL.

Thank you for joining me on this series. I would also like to extend my thanks to the three people that have contributed to the blogs. If you have not read parts 1 and 2 of the series yet, they are as follows:

Part 1: Lukas Podolski

Part 2: Olivier Giroud

Bring on Sunderland! UTA

Follow me @goonerathena =)

While there are very few topics relating to Arsenal that Gooners agree upon, the fact that Samir Nasri is a twat is generally not argued. However, while agreeing with the previous statement I am beginning to suspect that we as Gooners are making Nasri into a bigger deal than he ever really was or deserves to be. Was it unclassy of Nasri to join one of our direct rivals and try to fob off his money-wanting ways with excuses of passion and trophies? Yes, but should we really be surprised? This was a player who signed a contract extension with Marseille to keep him at the club until 2012 then left to come and join Arsenal. Past behaviour tends to be indicative of present choices.

I have been surprised to see people label Nasri as a Judas and speak of him on the same terms as Fabregas. For me the only commonality between Fabregas and Nasri is that they both left the club at the same time. There has been much controversy over Fabregas and I myself have been highly critical of the way he left the club, but the facts remain he was a key player for Arsenal for the better part of 8 years. Cesc was our Captain and a brilliant player; he has the ability to change a game with his mere presence on the pitch and is truly a world class performer. The game against Aston Villa in December 2009 is a perfect example. Fabregas spent less than 20 minutes on the pitch and offered two goals and changed the momentum of the game – all while nursing a hamstring injury. He is a player of proven quality and talent who could have gone on to become an Arsenal legend. Cesc appeared in 303 games for Arsenal, provided 57 goals and 101 assists. Although it was painful to see him go, Cesc left to join a club he has always supported and loved. To compare the proven quality of Cesc to Nasri, a player who sole motivation for leaving was money, is a disservice to both Cesc and Arsenal.

I have read that people are of the opinion Nasri is also a world class player, and while I agree he has the talent and the potential to reach that level eventually, I don’t believe he ever showed it at Arsenal. Nasri’s first season didn’t exactly set the world on fire. In 44 matches he provided 5 assists and scored 7 goals, with his brace against Man Utd in November being his most notable goals of the season. He struggled to find form for the remainder of the season.

After dealing with a broken leg in the 09-10 campaign he returned in October and netted goals against AZ Alkmaar, Standard Liège, and Portsmouth. He didn’t score again until his wonder goal against Porto in the Champions League and continued his decidedly average form by not scoring at all in the last seven games of the season. In 34 appearances Nasri provided just 5 goals and 5 assists.

The 2010-2011 season was when Nasri began to shine and cause others to sit up and take notice. At the time it was widely speculated that his exclusion from the World Cup squad was a motivating factor for Nasri. The man himself said:

“When I discovered that I wasn’t part of the squad for the World Cup, I got a big slap in the face. The next day I had a chat with Arsene Wenger and he reassured me.”

Nasri seemed determined to prove his worth. He suffered an injury on Aug 15th against Liverpool in the first game of the season but returned sooner than expected ,and would begin to turn his potential into good form on the pitch. Nasri scored twice against Tottenham in September and then added another brace in our 3–2 home defeat to West Brom. He went on to score in the next three games and bagged himself the PFA Fan’s Player of the Month in October. Nasri continued his goalscoring ways well into December, earning himself the Arsenal player of the month award by racking up 12 goals and was consequently named French Player of the Year. However into the new year we began to see a dip in his form , with only 3 more goals for the rest of the season, and his most notable contribution being the assist to Arshavin for the winner against Barcelona. Despite this, Nasri ended his breakout season for us being nominated for both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards, as well as being selected for the Team of the Year.

The end of the 2010-2011 season had fans and the media excited about Nasri’s game. However, looking back through his performances with a careful eye, it is easy to put Nasri into perspective. That he is a player with potential there is no doubt, but Nasri was never Arsenal. He didn’t grow up a fan of the club, he didn’t fall in love with the Arsenal way and he certainly didn’t achieve anything legendary in his 3 brief seasons with us. He is a football player who came and performed a job for us. By booing him, labelling him a Judas, constantly tweeting him or about him we are raising him to a level that he isn’t worthy of. We are better off focusing on supporting the players that are committed to Arsenal and our fight. We would do well to remember having a fantastic song doesn’t prove anything except that Gooners enjoy a good tune.

What Else is There to Say?

Posted: November 15, 2011 by lpgcast in LPGCast
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Join us with guest @Sianymacalarny of for some interlull fun

 Loyalty is a concept bandied widely about in football. Its definition hard to pin down and tricky to see.  Supporters all use different versions to fit their needs, and it’s difficult to pigeon hole exactly what makes a supporter, player, or even a manager loyal. This summer at Arsenal , loyalty became an almost painful word as we watched players like Clichy and Nasri slip away to our rivals, watched as our former Captain struggled with his own internal loyalties and then  said goodbye as he headed home.

Somewhere in this painful process loyalty began to take on a proud meaning for Gooners.  We saw a devoted player with true love and passion for Arsenal become our Captain. We’ve cheered the joy of a young Carl Jenkinson fulfill a life goal to become a Gunner. Us Gooners have rallied around the determination of our Twitter champion Jack Wilshere and buoyed Emmanuel Frimpong to cult status while embracing the concept of Team Deeeeench. Loyalty has now become a fierce and strong word for Arsenal fans in recognition of this new team. Yet it still causes me to pause for a moment and wonder what has made the difference.

While reflecting on Nasri’s quotes I noticed the respect for Wenger and the echo of sentiments expressed by many of our senior and past players.  Nasri said:

I am the player I am today because of Arsene Wenger… He came to find me at Marseille and made me the player I am.

This was interesting because it came after a statement he made that Arsenal fans are not as passionate and that he left looking for more ambition. Cesc too said:

For me, he will be like a second father. I will never be able to thank him enough for all he did for me…. I know that I might have harmed Arsenal’s plans but I am sure they will fix it.

Both players expressed respect and admiration for Arsene but still chose to leave the Club behind, knowing that their departures would affect the man they claim to have profound admiration for.

I have to wonder if this is because somewhere along the way, some of our players choose to join Arsene FC and not Arsenal FC.  Our own legendary Theirry Henry may be an example of this phenomenon. Throughout numerous interviews and various quotes Henry has expressed his loyalty to Arsene, claiming:

Arsène is my spiritual father…I respect him a lot.”

And again we all know the story.  Wenger rescued him from Juventus, frustrated and running low on confidence. He paid £10 million, and it was the buy of a lifetime. Henry at once became his central striker, and was a man transformed. Article after article claiming it was Arsene who changed Titi, who gave him his chance, who made him a legend. Arsene not Arsenal, and again Gooners the world over watched as another Arsenal Captain walked away.  I’m not condemning Arsene in anyway and I’m not claiming there is anything wrong with player loyalty to a manger, but there is a world of difference in a player who is devoted to a club compared to one who is devoted to a manager.

When Robin van Persie speaks of Arsenal he talks about his love for the Club.  When talking about offers from clubs such as Chelsea and Man City, Robin said:

“It is good that four teams were really interested in me but I had to turn them down. Even if you want to leave, as a player, I don’t think it is easy because when you move to Arsenal you are led there by your heart.” 

Is Van Persie less ambitious than Nasri or even Hleb or Flamini who also left for similar reasons? Somehow I doubt that.

What is even more exciting is to watch our new players.  Players like Jack, Frimpong and Jenkinson who have a boisterous and well documented love for our Club; who – while respecting Wenger as a manger – put their love of Arsenal before their devotion to him.  While I have had it pointed out to me that all these lads are English, I don’t think that is the discerning factoring between them and players like Fabregas and Nasri. These players actually love Arsenal above all else. They believe in the Club, will take responsibility for their team and will fight to be a part of the greatness that is Arsenal. I don’t see Jack leaving Arsenal to find a supposedly “more ambitious” club, and more importantly perhaps, The Emirates is his home.

Although Arsene remains a vital and important part of Arsenal, I see things changing at our Club and in our players. Maybe what is most indicative of this change is the passing of the motto ‘In Arsene we Trust’ to the recent rallying cry of ‘Forward Arsenal’.

Posted: June 29, 2011 by cyclechicster in Red-Eye to London
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So this video has caused a minor uproar on Twitter as Cesc’s quotes have circulated via The Guardian. Unfortunately, the translations are correct. However, the media are (omg what a surprise) capitalizing on these quotes.

This is what I can catch, some of it is in Catalán and I don’t understand it, so unlike the Don Balón translation, this will be slightly incomplete.

Reporter: You can’t resolve anything now, can you?

CF: Nonono–

R: but you can relax about it now?

CF: Exactly, at the moment I don’t have anything to say and there’s nothing to discuss.

R: you’re just getting in good physical condition to be ready for the start of the season, right?

CF: Of course, I’m already doing my part, and doing what I can–

R: [two reporters talk at once] Are you relaxed/content at your club? [the other asks if he is an optimist]

CF: yes, yes, I’m very relaxed

R: [in Catalán] What about the market?

CF: What market?

R: the transfer market [not sure about this next part] Are you in it?

CF: Me? No, if something happens it’s because it has to; I believe that when a player is in the market, it’s because his club doesn’t want him, but I don’t have that problem so I’m calm.

R: Are you an optimist?

CF: Yes, I’m optimistic about everything, I don’t know what you’re referring to.


Uplifting Animal Spirits

Posted: May 25, 2011 by lpgcast in LPGCast
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With such a disappointing end to our 10/11 season, the LPG casters announce their spirit Arsenal players. What is a spirit animal/Arsenal player? Simple: the player with whom you share most/all personality traits, or rather, your Arsenal soulmate. These spirit Arsenal players led to a lot of jokes, thus the ‘uplifting’ in the title. In this episode, we talk, at length, about Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, and transfer rumors.

Keep your eye on our twitter for superlative categories and polls!

Download the podcast here!