You may have seen that Cesc Fabregas played the last 15 minutes or so of the two games against Newcastle on the right of midfield. Having seen both these small periods of the game live at the Emirates, it made me think. Before I explain my thoughts, remember that the game was won in the two games where Wenger moved him out wide.
Cast your minds back to Fabregas’ first season with the first team. With Vieira and Gilberto injured at the start of the season Cesc came in and did a brilliant job alongside Edu. Towards the end of the season, the senior players returned and Wenger chose to use the young Spaniard far more sparingly. In fact, most of his appearances were off the bench and he played a lot of his games on the right, including the FA Cup Final.
In the last two games he moved to the right of midfield and seemed to get far more time on the ball out there. He was given space to pick out a perfect pass and he was provided with the freedom to get into the opposition box at will. With the injuries we have, coupled with the indifferent form of Walcott and Diaby, Wenger should consider that he now has another option. Cesc can dictate play from out wide without having players closing him down so fast. Hleb is better on the left for me and it would be interesting to see Fabregas on the right with Hleb left.
That leaves a question over whom to play with Flamini. Diaby has signed a new contract and if Wenger wants to play him more, he needs to give him a chance in the centre, his natural position. Selecting a team is more about adapting to who we have playing. That means that with the players picked for the first team, we should look at how comfortable they are in certain positions rather than who is better overall. There is no doubt Cesc is the better player but he certainly seems more comfortable out wide than Diaby.
From midfield Fabregas has become a bit too tentative in his midfield role. During his scoring run at the start of the season Fabregas was taking up positions further forward and he was a massive threat. Recently he has dropped deep and teams have been able to stifle the flow of the team much better.
When Cesc is driving forward, he may not get the ball every time, but he certainly distracts defenders. They know that they have to watch the strikers but will have a watchful eye on the onrushing midfield player. I assure you, this is where confusion kicks in. Should the midfield fail to track their runners, the centre backs have to make the decision whether to be drawn out and call across the full backs. This will either provide space for the wide players to exploit or gaps open up straight through the middle. In the last two games this has happened when Fabregas has pushed on.
It was nice to see Cesc on the scoresheet again and if he can get forward like he did at the start of the season, we could see even more. As I said, I noticed how his goal came from the right last night and he has been closed down very well in centre midfield and I think it’s interesting how well he can adapt to this position. With players out and likely rotation to come into it, it is another option