Just a quick piece today as I find myself excitedly writing as I read reports about the possible return of one of finest in Cesc Fabregas. Frustrated at the Camp Nou and with a World Cup season ahead of him it is widely being reported that Fabregas may seek a new challenge in 2013/14 and regular first team action.
If he does leave Barcelona it is hard to believe his destination will be anywhere other than N5, due the buyback clause at a set price cleverly inserted in the deal when he left the Emirates in the summer of 2011. With a market value of £40 million or so Arsenal can purchase their ex-talisman for a reported £25 million. Add to this the fact the Barcelona still owes us money from the Alex Song deal we could be picking up the bargain of the decade.
There are still some Arsenal fans that are hurting over the manner of his departure, and reports of his refusal to play. I am not such a fan and I’m personally not convinced by the stories he went on strike to force a move. I am more convinced that he has a long conversation with his mentor; Arsene Wenger in the summer of 2011 and Le Boss persuaded him to stay one more year and try to win something for Arsenal in 2010/11. Had injury not struck I am certain with Cesc leading us out at Wembley the Birmingham result would have been markedly different. Al of this is supposition of course.
So if we put all that to one side the only real question is; would a return this summer of Fabregas improve Arsenal and our chances in 2013/14? The answer of course is yes so it is imperative that if the player does wish to move from Spain and return to London, where I understand his partner and child live then Arsenal MUST uphold their option. Allowing ourselves to dream then the question that most intrigues me as a fan and a writer is where Fabregas would play?
As I consider it, increasingly I see there as being 3 possible styles/formations that Wenger could choose from to energise the team and illicit the maximum from Cesc, whilst being mindful of how creative and influential his friend Santi Cazorla has been this past season:
Option 1 – Play Cesc where he played in 2010/11
The team post Thierry Henry had evolved between 2009 and 2011 around Fabregas as the key playmaker and creative force, into the 4231 we operate today. This saw Cesc at the centre of a creative threesome operating behind a sole striker. Ramsey initially, then Rosicky, Cazorla and occasionally Wilshere have all has stints in this position, with varying degrees of success, since he left. It was in this position that Fabregas had his best season for Arsenal from a goal scoring perspective in 2009/10 when he bagged 19.
Here is how the team might look if the Spaniard came back and slotted seamlessly into his old CAM role:
Option 2 – Play Cesc where he played in 2005-2008
The team could revert to the formation that brought the club so much success in the early Wenger years and this of course saw Fabregas merely taking over from Vieira at the head of a midfield four. Here he operated behind 2 strikers; a Number 10 and a centre forward and had an out and out defensive midfielder in Gilberto or Flamini alongside him. Whilst Wenger abandoned this system in 2009 it was arguably using the old way in 2007/8 that saw our best campaign since the 03/04 campaign and announced Fabregas onto the scene as the most creative footballer in the Premiership. In 2007/8 Cesc provided a quite incredible 23 assists for Arsenal, 20 of them in the league.
Here is how the team could set up with Cesc at the head of the diamond:
Option 3 – Give Fabregas the Bergkamp No.10 role in a 4411
Option 3 is effectively not hugely dissimilar to option 1 but is closer to the old system in which Bergkamp operated behind the main striker, mostly Henry. However this position whilst being largely a creative role carries with it the responsibility to drop back into the midfield to make it a central 3 when Arsenal are not in possession. This role certainly would give Fabregas full licence to roam and effect the play as Bergkamp once did but I feel it would require a fast Henry type striker and is Walcott yet that man?
Here is how this might look in 2013.14 with Fabregas at No.10:
The answer I suspect is that should Cesc return he will be give the CAM role occupied on the 2012/13 primarily by Tomas Rosicky and the formation will remain the same. It is however worthwhile considering the options his quality would give us and make no mistake he is better than anyone we currently have in the squad. This being the case it may leave Santi on the left and a fully fit Podolski vying with Oliver Giroud, or indeed a new addition for the sole striking position.
Suffice to say whatever Wenger decided I hope he first decides that bringing Cesc back to his true footballing home is the right option. Because if he does wherever Fabregas plays on the pitch he will make us a better team than we have been and I will happily argue that point with anyone. Arsenal winning again is about squad depth but depth with quality and Cesc can be the first huge step back to where we all want Arsenal to be again in 2013/14
I would love to hear your views on whether I have looked at the right 3 options or if you feel there are alternatives so please leave a comment. I am under no illusion that my options are exhaustive or indeed where I have positioned others to fit around Cesc the only options. Perhaps you feel Cesc could play wide of we could adopt the False 9?
Lastly if he does come back I would make him Captain which I know many would not agree with but I am not convinced by the alternatives at present.
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