Friday, 2 April 2010

Fabregas: Legend Damages Leg End

Cesc Fabregas (Courtesy RobTM)

What kind of a legend is Cesc Fabregas? After 85 minutes of the match against Barcelona on Wednesday he broke his leg, but he played on because Arsenal had already used all three substitutes.

I was calm before the match. The way I saw it, everybody had already written us off and we had nothing to lose. But for 60 minutes Barcelona showed why they are Spanish Champions, European Champions and World Club Champions. They hassled and harried Arsenal, making sure that they couldn't get their passing game going; indeed, couldn't even get near Barca they were that good. They did what Arsenal do to other teams - they passed them off the park. In the first half, Barcelona had 70 percent possession. That's incredible.

Arsenal Addict asked yesterday 'How many of you had given up after 60 minutes?'. Well, I hadn't. When Barca were 1-0 up, I had a kind of premonition of the match ending 2-2. After 60 minutes and at 2-0, I said to myself: 'I'd take a draw at this point.' I know that might sound blindly optimistic, but it almost always looks to me during matches that Arsenal are going to score at any minute. They create so many chances. Even I could score if I was playing up front. Even Tony Cascarino could score. Nah, maybe that's going too far.

Admittedly, for the first 60 minutes Barca had dominated, but I knew that Arsenal are fitter than most teams and always come strong towards the end of matches. Still, when the comeback happened it was incredible and breathtaking. The turning point was Theo Walcott coming on. Barca were terrified of him. When they were faced with him, they looked like frightened rabbits caught in a cars headlights. It didn't take them long to get three players surrounding him every time he got the ball but even then they couldn't totally stop him and by that point it was too late anyway. He had already made several penetrating runs including the fabulous one after 69 minutes where he completely outpaced the fullback and slotted under Valdes for 2-1.

Then, after 85 minutes, an Arsenal legend was made. Francesco Fabregas was pushed over on the edge of the six yard box by Carles Puyol. Penalty to Arsenal and Puyol sent off. As I'm sure you're by now all aware, Fabregas dispatched the spot kick to make it 2-2. But wait, Fabregas was limping and we'd already used all three substitutes..... But he manfully soldiered on for the last 5 minutes plus stoppage time not knowing at that point that he'd broken his leg.

If Fabregas hadn't got injured, I think we may even have gone on to win the game 3-2. In reality, he was a passenger for the last few minutes, but it didn't matter. The fact that he was still there was all that counted. What a player! What a night!

In time, we may count the cost of this match. Arshavin, who went off injured in the first half, is likely to be out for two weeks. Fabregas and Gallas will most likely miss the rest of the season. How will that affect our chances in the Premier League and indeed against Barca in the second leg of their Champions League tie? Who knows? But the first indication we get will be this weekend when Arsenal are at home to Wolves, and Manchester United and Chelsea face each other at old Trafford.

I still think that Arsenal can win the league if they win every match. That's a tough ask but highly do-able. If we can't be Wolves at our place, we don't deserve to win the league and Manure and Chelski can't both win, so come Saturday night we will either be in a better position than we are now or effectively be out of the title race.

I just hope the Barcelona match didn't take too much out of the players.

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