Next up in The Short Fuse's review of the 2010-11 season is everyone's favorite Catalonian Captain, Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
Most Arsenal supporters would agree that one player has, more than anyone, been key to the club's competitiveness during the lean times of the past five years, and that player is Cesc Fabregas. No other player on Arsenal, or in England, has been able to combine his passing vision, scoring ability, and technique during that time, and although Fabregas has appeared in over 300 matches for Arsenal, he's still just turned 24.
The start of 2010-11 was always going to be a bit trying for the captain. He got a late start to the year due to his involvement with the Spanish national team's World Cup victory (and by "involvement", I mean coming off the bench to provide a customary through-ball for Andres Iniesta to poke home for the cup-winner). He came on as a sub against Blackpool in the second match of the year, and started the next against Blackburn, but took a while to get up to full speed.
But then he got up to speed, and it was typical Cesc for a bit. Two assists against Bolton and two goals against Braga brought everyone along for the ride, and then the summer exacted its first toll of the year at Sunderland in the most bizarre way. Cesc chased down Anton Ferdinand, whose late clearance ricocheted off the bottom of Fabregas' boot and flew into the net from 35 yards out, Simon Mignolet stranded. However, Fabregas seemed to injure his hamstring in the process, and had to leave the match.
He would struggle with the hamstring problem for the rest of the year, in truth, but in October, when he played, Arsenal still found success, winning 3-0 at Manchester City and 5-1 against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. His hammy would continue to plague him into November; despite his influence against Everton and Tottenham Hotspur (ugh), he wouldn't be able to finish against Braga. He would try to come back against Manchester United in December, but the Gunners lost; he did come back against Chelsea and was magnificent as Arsenal put away the Blues.
As the year rolled on, Cesc formed an increasingly tight understanding with Jack Wilshere and Alex Song behind him. He helped out in Arsenal's cup ties in January, and then February, and Barcelona, arrived. At the head of the midfield, Cesc orchestrated probably the most famous victory at the Emirates so far as Arsenal overcame the best club in the world.
But then, typically for the year, his hamstring faltered against Stoke, and Fabregas missed the Carling Cup final. The less said about that, the better. Also, the less said, the better, about Cesc's March, as he and Arsène Wenger forced the issue a bit, trying to play at the Camp Nou, and breaking down. Cesc would play in April a bit, but a thigh injury meant that he would miss all of May, Aaron Ramsey deputizing in his place.
All in all, everybody knows that when Fabregas is healthy, he is possibly the best passing midfielder in the world not named Xavi. Arsenal have pretty capable replacements in Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky, but the former is very young yet, and the latter is made of whatever those flat sugar panels are that directors use in action movies to simulate breaking glass panes because they break easier than glass does. Supporters can take heart in the fact that he has the entire summer to rest, and, knock on wood, he will come back for the Emirates Cup fresh as a daisy and ready to go. Last time he had a summer off (2009), he followed it up with 19 goals and a billion assists and a trillion key passes in 36 appearances for Arsenal...so.
Please be healthy and fresh, Cesc.
Ted's emoticon: :) then :( then :) then :( again
Beltrans grade: B+ (due to injury)