Tag Archives: fabregas

One notable aspect of last night’s win over Olympiakos was how much more attacking play went down our right wing (than the left wing).

This is evident from a graphic showing the team’s passes. The yellow circle shows that relatively little connecting play happened in the “left forward” section of the pitch:

Some may point their fingers at Andrei Arshavin, who completed fewer passes (21) than any of Arsenal’s ten starting outfield players.

Indeed, Aaron Ramsey completed the same number of passes in 33 minutes on the field as Arshavin managed in 83 minutes.

Arshavin also lost the ball 12 times, giving him a very weak pass completion rate of 64%.

Yet this isn’t intended as an Arshavin-bashing post. More, it’s about something I’ve noticed in other games this season, notably against Swansea:

When Arsenal play more of a 4-3-3 (than a 4-2-1-3), Arshavin tries to sneak inside and play centrally.

This can partly be seen in the following graphics, especially Arshavin’s “dashboard”, which shows all of his bits of involvement in the game apart from off the ball runs (stop sniggering at the back).

Although he may not have set the world alight last night, he was dangerous in the middle on the break in the second half, when Olympiakos were pushing for an equaliser.

And it makes sense for him to sneak inside more often when part of a 4-3-3, as this formation doesn’t commit one of the midfielders into the “Fabregas” role, or “trequartista” position — thus leaving  space for the centre forward to drop into, or for Arshavin to come across into.

His dashboard against Swansea shows how centrally he played:

There’s no crashing finale or conclusion to this blog post, it’s more food for thought. But I do have some sympathy with the excellent Backwards Gooner who I seem to recall at the beginning of the season calling for Arsenal to play 4-3-3 instead of 4-2-1-3.

Irrespective of Arshavin, it’s possible that a 4-3-3 makes the team less predictable, at least in the final third. There are far more complexities to this question that I won’t delve into for now (like when the three midfielders often swap around), but how it changes Arshavin’s game — and the game of the other forwards — is worth looking out for.

 

* All stats and figures sourced from StatsZone.

It’s with no pleasure at all that we start today with a report of our own. As Tweeted last night, I’ve been informed that Cesc has already cleared out his locker. I didn’t even know the players still had lockers. Do they nick each other’s stuff otherwise?

Maybe he’s just being tidy. Or maybe my source’s source is telling porkies. I don’t know the source’s source, but of course I do know my direct source (are you still following this?), and that source is extremely honest and bullshit-free.

In conclusion, I believe it, just as I believe other reports that Arsenal’s captain is finally on the way out. As predictable as it may have become, it’s still disappointing – particularly given the relatively feeble transfer fee, which I’ve already moaned about here.

Anyway, with a heavy heart, here is the meeja’s latest on Fabregas’s apparently imminent signing for Barcelona…

Xavi rubbing his thighs

“Arsenal expect it to be done by the weekend,” states the BBC’s Dan Roan. A senior club source has told Roan that “all the funds generated by the sale will be reinvested in new players.”

The syntax here is perhaps interesting. It says “reinvested in new players”, not “made available for new players” (which could see the manager decide not to spend it) or “invested in the squad” (which could see it spent on wages). It may just be Roan being lazy with words, but if not then this is a very stark promise from the board – suggesting that they already have big-money signings lined up.

“The BBC understands a fee of £30m, plus over £5m of additional performance-related payments, is close to being reached for Fabregas.”

Guillem Balague says that Barcelona will pay €29m up front, €6 in “variables”, and then an extra €5m that will somehow be saved from Cesc accepting €1m a year less in wages over five years.

Both fees, in my opinion, would be entirely unacceptable. But there we go.

Some newspapers, such as the Daily Mail, say that Cesc will forego that £4.4m “loyalty payment” that he would absurdly get for “being sold”.

Wantaway Numero Deux

Most newspapers are also saying that Samir Nasri is closer to signing for Man City. The Telegraph says Arsenal expect £23m from the deal.

Reports in France say that City have offered Nasri £185,000 a week, which is pretty much the equivalent of giving me use of a yacht in Monte Carlo for 10 years as payment for writing this blog.

Madness.

Neville sticks up for Arsene

The tabloids are full of Gary Neville today, apparently because he did some Sky Sports thing after which he said a bit about football.

Tough life, eh?

Notably, though, the former Man Utd full back had this to say about Arsene Wenger, as reported in the Mirror: “You don’t stay there like Arsene has without being an outstanding manager. He is one of the best.”

“Never underestimate or disrespect what that man can achieve with players and his scouting network….

“Arsenal have been our major rivals for the past 15 years [Ed. – take note, Abramovich]. They are the team that have gone through seasons unbeaten.”

Well, one season unbeaten – but nice to have it recognised. Neville goes on to describe the 1998 double-winning side as “the best team I played against”. He also cites Arsenal’s stadium move as a reason for holding back spending on the first team.

Little earner?

Talking of wonga, the Sun claims that Arsenal earned just £27.3m from the Champions’ League last season – compared to Man United raking in £48.4m, Chelsea making £40.5m and even That Lot Up The Road earning £28.3m.

Disappointing, if correct.

The ever-excellent Swiss Ramble could probably shed more light.

Jack out of Geordie tie

As if our problems weren’t big enough, the Times confirms that Jack Wilshere will miss the match against Newcastle on Saturday, “and is considered by the club’s medical staff to be unlikely to figure in the first leg of their Champions’ League play-off against Udinese on Tuesday.”

Bugger.

New arrivals?

What with Cesc and Nasri appearing to be on the way out, the ‘papers are full of suggestions for replacements and other potential arrivals.

Mathieu Valbuena of Marseille is a £15m target for Wenger, the Telegraph says.

“Twente striker Bryan Ruiz” is another option, the Mail claims. Ruiz is a compatriot of young Joel Campbell, who is likely to decide on his future in the next few days.

Or could Wenger launch another last-minute raid of Russia? The Star says that CSKA’s Alan Dzagoev is a target.

The Star also runs a massive double page spread with quotations from Nigel Winterburn, the headline of which says that Arsenal are “ONE MONTH FROM MELTDOWN”.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

And finally…

Something to cheer you up, Gooners.

The Mirror’s back page splashes on this wonderfully hilarious picture of the Tottenham flapper dressed in a charming polo-necked piece of knitwear.

The poor little darling. Please spare a thought for all the Premiership footballers who have suffered this week, locked up in their mock-Tudor mansions near Chingford — arms wrapped around their knees, rocking themselves to sleep by a radiator.

THE RIOTS ARE COMING TO GET YOU, GOMES.

AAARRGGHH!

Welcome to the first Gingers 4 Limpar newspaper review. A few Arsenal-related tidbits from this morning’s rags hereby follow…

Mata deal off?

The Guardian reports that Juan Mata is “thought unlikely to join Arsenal” following fresh comments from Valencia boss Unai Emery.

Speaking to TalkSport, Emery said: “We all believe he will stay at Valencia.”

The quotation adds weight to the argument of Guillem Balague, who claimed this week that Arsenal missed a crucial contractual deadline, scuppering the deal.

However, many people have dismissed this line as a pile of pony, and expect the transfer to remain a distinct possibility.

Cesc action

Captain Cesc Fabregas is “available for selection” against Benfica, the Guardian claims in the same report.

Several thousand of us saw Fabregas complete a full training session during Members’ Day yesterday, confirming to many that his injury is either over-played, or a complete myth.

Despite missing Arsenal’s pre-season friendlies to date, there is a “growing feeling” that Cesc will play in Portugal, the newspaper claims.

Shaking things up a tad more, the Times says Fabregas “has accepted he may have to play”. They say Cesc is “disillusioned with the situation” but that Arsenal are “unwilling to be bullied, as they see it, into accepting a lower offer.”

A more robust line appears on the back page of City AM, which says that Wenger could “force Barcelona’s hand” by fielding Fabregas in the upcoming Champions’ League qualifier.

“Barcelona may finally be forced to table a suitable bid should Wenger declare his intention to select Fabregas,” writes James Goldman. The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson takes a similar line, arguing that Barcelona have an “11 day deadline to buy Fabregas”.

Talking of a “suitable bid”, a visibly frustrated Bob Wilson yesterday said: “How can Barcelona offer £27m for a player worth £50m?”

Good question, Bob. I recently argued the same point on this blog.

Yet the Daily Mail claims this morning that “a deal in the region of £35m is expected to be enough to land the Spain midfielder.”

The Times is more specific, claiming that Barcelona’s last offer is for £29.6m plus “add-ons” that would take the total to £35m. “They [Barca] believe the ball is in Arsenal’s court and at this stage there is no obvious sign of an end to the impasse.”

Good. He can stay, then.

The Mail claims that Stanley Kroenke “led high-level meetings” yesterday, including discussions over the Barcelona bids.

The tabloid also quotes Andres Iniesta speaking about Fabregas. Again.

“We have said it many times before,” admitted Iniesta. “We would be thrilled with his arrival.”

The Mirror and the Independent, meanwhile, print the same photo of Cesc as the Sun (below). Because it makes him look gloomy, you see. Well done them.

Draw coming up

The draw for (next) the Champions’ League qualifiers is today.

The Guardian states that Arsenal could play FC Twente, Rubin Kazan, Udinese, FC Zurich or Odense.

Crocks or not?

The Guardian also says that Theo Walcott is “intending to declare his fitness” for next weekend’s Premiership start against Newcastle.

In contradiction to this upbeat verdict, the Sun labels Theo and team-mate Jack Wilshere “crocks” and says they are at risk of missing England’s ever-so important friendly against Holland.

God forbid.

Yet their fellow Murdoch-newspaper the Times disagrees, printing that Theo “could be fit in time to play some part in the opening Premier League fixture against Newcastle” before adding: “Walcott’s injury is a minor recurrence of the twisted ankle he suffered against Stoke City last February”.

Bartley to return to Rangers

Last night ESPN and the BBC reported that Kyle Bartley would return to Glasgow Rangers on loan for the coming season.

Bartley, who scored a very unfortunate own-goal against New York Red Bulls, had previously voiced concern over his future for next season being delayed.

Bartley could end up playing alongside fellow Arsenal youth product Rhys Murphy, who has earned a trial at the Gers.

Good luck to them both.