Saturday, 30 April 2011

Have Cesc's concerns off the field effected his game? | Vermaelen's ready

Morning Gooners.

Yet another big game for the Arsenal tomorrow and the players will be heading to London Colney later for the final preparations and tactical discussion ahead of Manchester United's visit to the Grove.

The main news today revolves around Cesc Fabregas, after Arsene Wenger admitted the captain may be putting too much pressure on himself to drive the team forward to a win.

Wenger said:

"It is too much for him at his age … I believe so, of course. But he is the captain of the team and Robin van Persie is vice-captain and they put a lot of pressure on themselves. 
"Cesc is a winner. He wants to win, he is desperate to win the games. And, of course, when it does not work, he is frustrated.
"It is too much because it doesn't go as well. Once it will go well, he will grow with it. Every difficulty in life will make you stronger, especially when you have a strong character. 
"He is a strong character and I believe it will make him stronger. Maybe this season, it is a bit [of] a heavy burden for him."
Pressure can be a good thing. It can be bad. I think that Cesc is probably taking to much on himself. He's the captain and without a core group of players around him who have more experience of the game, he has to go out and perform to his best in every match. There is no one else who will take up the slack.

You could argue that van Persie as vice captain does the same but I think the Dutchman is more selfish where as Fabregas is a team player. When you look around this Arsenal team there are players who are mid-20s, but they have no experience of winning trophies.

When Arshavin comes in, he adds experience to the team but is not the type of character who others look up to and I don't mean that in a derogatory way or am having a pop at his height. When you see the Russian tell his teammates where to pass by pointing around the pitch and standing on the spot, I'm sure his colleagues don't enjoy it.

No one steps up to the mark quite like Fabregas and when he doesn't play well and is having an off day with lots of miss placed passes, you can hear the moans of the crowd. In fact, even when not at his best, I'd imagine Fabregas is still statistically one of the best performers on the pitch.

This season to me he's had spells where he's been superb. But they've been mixed with spells on the sidelines with hamstring injuries. They don't seem to want to go away either.

You have to wonder if factors off the pitch have also been effecting his game. The Sun report he's split up with his long term girlfriend and maybe last summer's transfer shenanigans with Barcelona haven't helped.

Personally I believe every time Fabregas pulls on an Arsenal shirt he gives 100%. Never any less. But I do think we need to bring in players who will step up to the mark when he's not having the greatest games because Cesc deserves to win things at Arsenal and that's the only way I can see us achieving it with him.

In other news, Thomas Vermaelen has said he is fit and waiting for Arsene Wenger to decide when he'll make his first team return.

The defender came through 90 minutes on Thursday night in a reserve fixture with Manchester United.

He told the official site:
"It felt really good today and I’m happy to be back. It’s always good to be back on the pitch and your first game after a long injury is always special. 
"It’s been a hard time, a difficult time and I’m happy to be back now."
I'm very intrigued to see who the Belgium international will partner in defence upon his return. Naturally you'd expect it to be Johan Djourou but Laurent Koscielny has been outstanding in his first season. Neither really deserved to be dropped.

I imagine Vermaelen will get some minutes in the Villa game, our last home game of the season.

And mentioning our Swiss defender, he's given an interview to The Guardian. Well worth a read.

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