Arsene Wenger’s biggest challenge ahead of the new season is finding the right balance after a disjointed campaign last time round.
With 24 minutes on the clock, Cesc Fabregas displayed why he is so important to the Arsenal team. Finishing off a wonderfully fluid move team move, Spain brushed aside New Zealand in the group stages of the Confederations Cup with much ease. Just like Barcelona, the European Champion’s success lies with the awesome midfield combination of Xavi, Fabregas, Xabi Alonso and Iniesta (although he missed out yesterday), the Catalunya blueprint of ‘receive, pass, offer’ running through the very heart of each of them.
They are the must have accessories for every side, the envy of all clubs and Arsenal must count themselves lucky to have one within their ranks. Cesc Fabregas is the heartbeat of Wenger’s team and there are not many like him in Europe. More playmakers are moving back to the No.10 role or as deep lying playmakers as the importance of zones and ‘between the lines’ players increases.
The first couple of weeks of pre-season will be very crucial. Fabregas may not be there; a prolonged rest is likely to be on the cards or as Arsenal are hoping will not happen, the materialisation of Barcelona’s interest in the skipper. Assuming the former, Nasri should take Cesc’s place in central midfield and how Arsenal function without Fabregas in this time will be crucial.
It is plainly obvious that Arsenal look an entirely different side without him as he is critical to their pass and move football as that number ‘4’. Last season the side was at times horribly unbalanced as Arsene Wenger tried to redress that fact by playing a 4-2-3-1 and making the full backs more cautious. The Gunners lost their intricacy while Fabregas was pushed up to account for the change in style. “We are accustomed to playing alongside the likes of Patrick Vieira, Flamini and Gilberto Silva,” said the skipper, 22. “Last season we were weak in this position which is so important, especially for teams like us. When we attack, it is vital to know someone is behind you to win the ball back.”
It may be a tad harsh on Denilson and Song who had good first seasons but it is easy to understand that a signing in the position may be more beneficial than at centre back. Denilson has some of the best tackling/interception stats in the league but is on his own, Song’s positional play lends him more to centre back while Diaby has never quite convinced despite his immense ability.
However Arsenal’s play is built around possession and movement and the imbalance may have been caused due to the lack of fluidity with the ball last season. Pre-season will be crucial in getting the team to gel and finding the right combinations, especially with Arshavin, Eduardo and Rosicky ready to start a proper full season.
Arsene Wenger may be under pressure froms fans and skipper alike to splash the cash to prevent a Cesc Fabregas sized hole through the door but with the talent in Arsenal’s ranks, the main priority should and always will be, to work on defending as a team and attacking as a team.