Our Holy Leader, Cesc Fabregas, Is Back !!

The fans had been waiting for a Cesc Fabregas goal and last night they were treated with two. At the weekend Fabregas had assisted three goals although something about our captain still seemed absent. Perhaps he was too quiet or perhaps it was no more than the want of seeing a Cesc goal and anticipating what kind of celebration would follow. Would he leap into the front row of the new Clock End and grab a supporter by the ears? Would he kiss the badge and slap his chest? That didn’t happen last night but it wasn’t needed because anybody could see Cesc was happy. He was Arsenal. He was our captain.
Part of ITV’s build-up to the game was a short interview with Arsene Wegner and Bacary Sagna. Despite being made to stand awkwardly in a dark room, Wenger was as eloquent as always. Tested on whether his team had what was required this season he spoke about the new maturity of the squad. “At 23 you are a man,” he said.  Seeing Cesc leading the team the way he did, with a five-o’clock shadow on his face, you forget this is a guy who (according to what Wenger says) is only just a man. The Frenchman must have forgotten to mention his one exception. Cesc became a man years ago.
Cesc is achieving at 23 what many men in football never do. Compare him to the likes of Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch and the rest of the nymphomaniacs in the England boys club and we have before us an exceptional person, not just an outstanding football player. Rooney received good reviews after his performance against Switzerland although I wasn’t so convinced. The usual tracking back, closing down and hunger of Rooney’s game had escaped him because he was trying his best to avoid more bad headlines. A yellow card for verbal abuse would have been the last thing he needed. Last week I was questioning Cesc’s own ability to focus on the pitch with the summer he had off of it. Pointless international breaks in Argentina with Xavi don’t help matters.
Last night though was a huge boost to any doubting Arsenal fan. Cesc was so direct and rampant, collecting balls in-between the Braga midfield and defence, passing early to a team-mate and then storming straight towards the Braga penalty area. No doubt Cesc had enjoyed assisting against Bolton but this is player who has proven he would rather be amongst the goals (19 last season). At the beginning of the second half an Arsenal move looked to have broken down, yet no cause was lost with Cesc in such an indomitable mood. Robbing a Braga defender of possession the ball fell to Arshavin. One clipped cross into the box and Cesc had his second of the night with a controlled header. It was hugs and smiles all round.
Arsenal are always crafting what most of the world think is impossible. Wenger is the architect and Cesc is the scaffolding. The rest of the team are the plastering and decorations. Would Arsenal’s building topple without Cesc? Can they play the same way without him? Maybe they can, but not to any consistent level. Is there enough to win the Champions League and the Premeirship without him? OK, so they haven’t won either yet since Cesc has been an influential first team player. Still, with him they can put together a strong challenge. Without him it would be extremely doubtful.
Some might go as far as to say we can’t do it anyway with Manuel Almunia wearing the gloves. Moaning about the goalkeeper situation looked a distant fad last night because it was obvious the most important move Wenger made in the summer was keeping hold of Fabregas. Wenger took care of that, now the rest of the team have the task of performing to his standard to ensure that come the end of the season Cesc can say it was right to remain in north London … whether it was his choice or not.
When Cesc is playing the game to such dynamic levels though, others around him can’t help but be influenced. A top-drawer Arsenal display was captivated by the Mexican chipping bean Carlos Vela who is Americanising the role of a second half sub into a specialised position. It was a night for revolutions all round when Emmanuel Eboue introduced his Russian cancan warm-up mixed with possessed panther staring pose. The rest of the highlights are too extensive to recall without another viewing, as it really was a quality effort from Laurent Koscienly through to Jack Wilshere, but I’ll say this; after just 10 minutes Arsenal had produced more entertainment than the cold dead crowd at Old Trafford were treated over the full course the evening before.
It wasn’t just about how easy on the eye Arsenal’s football was – the “cream … no, the crčme de la crčme” as Gareth Southgate put it – but also about the work-rate. It was more than could be said about the new fifth and sixth officials behind each goal. They came across more like airport security than match referees, holding what looked like mini metal detectors. Arsenal had two penalty shouts in the first five minutes but the drone to the side of the goal didn’t flinch. It was Sepp Blatter trying to solve a problem with another problem. The Gunners incurred no problems of their own and were near perfect in the football they invented. At the middle of it all was Cesc Fabregas. The night belonged to him. He was happy. He was Arsenal. He was our captain and he is the real reason the Pope has come to Britain today.
THE ARSENAL
The Pope’s visit
16 September: Arrives in Edinburgh; Open-air Mass in Glasgow; Flies to London
17 September: Meets Archbishop of Canterbury; Address at Westminster Hall; Service at Westminster Abbey
18 September: Mass at Westminster Cathedral; Open-air vigil in Hyde Park; Flies to the Stadium of Light to watch Cesc Fabregas play against Sunderland
19 September: Beatification Mass at Cofton Park Birmingham; Meets bishops of England, Scotland and Wales; Leaves for Rome.

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