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Fabregas on Özil, Ramsey and Wilshere

Cesc Fabregas talked about Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere.

Scott Heavey

One thing that I miss about not having Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal, beside the "being really good at football" bit, is how intelligently spoken he is. When Fabregas was at Arsenal, it was easy to see Arsene Wenger's influence on his football philosophy, with Fabregas often saying things in a very similar fashion to Arsene Wenger. In his interview with Sid Lowe of the Guardian, Fabregas speaks in an intelligent and Wenger-like fashion about a variety of topics.

On signing Mesut Özil, Fabregas says

Spectacular. If you have the chance to sign Özil, you can't let it pass you by. He fits Arsenal perfectly. It doesn't matter if you already have seven or eight players with a similar style, because they'll understand each other perfectly. [Jack] Wilshere sees football the same way, [Aaron] Ramsey, [Santi] Cazorla, [Tomas] Rosicky

Speaking of Wilshere and Ramsey, Fabregas has this to say in response to the question of how good they could be

As good as they want. They have quality on the ball and they have the physical attributes. Ramsey's stamina is spectacular. He and Flamini are the strongest I've ever seen, covering the ground. Wilshere is a bit different to the typical English player. He's not a [Steven] Gerrard or a [Frank] Lampard, he's more of a short passer, a "tocador"; a player of association. Ramsey is one of those that you look at and think: "He doesn't stand out in any specific quality, but he does everything, everything, well." His touch is good, his movement's good, now he's scoring goals too, providing assists. He's a kid who as a team player is a beast. Above all, he now has the confidence, responsibility.

While some have taken Fabregas' assertion that Ramsey doesn't stand out in any specific quality to be insulting, his point is actually quite fair. All aspects of Ramsey's game are very, very good, as Fabregas says. His passing is very good, his goal-scoring and off the ball runs are very good, and his workrate and tackling are exemplary. The idea of Wilshere as a "player of association" is interesting too. It implies that Wilshere isn't exactly a goal-scorer or an assister in the mould of, say, Özil, or Fabregas himself. Again, that seems to be a fair assessment of what Wilshere is good at--seeing the game from deep, and playing quick passes, or working his way into space.

Speaking of space, Fabregas talks about the difference between Spanish and English football, with the biggest difference being in space available:

In England opponents follow you, but if a player comes out to you it is easier to play a quick one-two and go beyond him into space. In a tactical-defensive sense, it is much more calculated in Spain; it's harder to score goals than in England.
In Spain, teams work much more on shape; they're more tactical, more positional. If I see a game in England - I don't miss any of Arsenal's games - I enjoy it. As a spectacle there's nothing better. English football has it's things but it also has a lot, a lot, of virtues.

There are, of course, generalisations--Rayo Vallecano are perhaps more open than any side in England, and there are some teams that focus on shape first, such as Steve Clarke's West Brom. What is interesting is what Arsenal are doing off the ball this season, and the tail end of last season: Arsenal are now focusing more on shape, and making it harder for teams to play through them. Becoming more organised and more focused on shape comes at the expense of some of Arsenal's possession play, but it signifies a shift from being so open, and a shift from the defensive structure when Fabregas was at the club.

The entire interview is well-worth reading.