As Arsenal fans, I think that we are blessed. Maybe not so much during the Graham reign but definitely during the Wenger era. From Bergkamp to Vieira to Henry, we’ve had truly world-class players that would walk right into any team in the world. Players that on their day, defines the outcome of any match. That player right now is Cesc Fabregas.
Against Bolton yesterday, the 23-year-old Spaniard once again showed just why he oozes class all over. Back from a 2 week layoff, he was straight back in the thick of things, almost like he was never away. Normal players can’t do that, they would usually take a few games to get into their stride. Bolton tried their level best to stop Fabregas, resorting to kicking and fouling him and that probably played into our hands. A fired-up Fabregas is not the player you would want on the opposition side.
A quick interchange with Eduardo at the edge of Bolton’s box provided Fabregas with space inside the penalty area and the latter duly obliged by planting his 13th goal in the Premier League this season. The move started from an incisive Eastmond pass to Diaby, who then wriggled past a couple of players and lost the ball, which fortuitously found Fabregas.
Without a recognized defensive midfield in the squad and not wanting to push Abou Diaby in that role, Wenger had no choice but to give a league debut to Craig Eastmond. The English lad have already featured in the Carling Cup run and in fairness, will look back on a better than average first league start. Never holding the ball longer than he should, he was always quick to pass the ball. Reminds me a little of Sergio Busquets of Barcelona, maybe doesn’t yet have the same ball control quality as the Spaniard but nonetheless, efficient in his work. He got tired towards the middle of the second half and was taken out, though the 60 odd minutes will put him in good stead for the future.
Hanging on for much of the second half as Bolton pressed for the equaliser, the other Spaniard in question, Fran Merida popped up with the goal that settled the encounter. With his contract still in question, Merida showed just why the red side of Madrid is ready to offer him playing time. Playing in the Fabregas role, he excelled in his work. Perhaps that is the one that suit him most, rather than the Diaby role which he was played in at Upton Park. The roaming attacking midfielder got just reward for his tidy cameo when he deftly killed Eduardo’s cutback and slotting home with his weaker right foot.
Probably the one player who will feel more than slightly let down by his performance is Armand Traore. With Clichy already up and running and featuring in the last quarter of the match, Traore will surely go back to the bench for the coming games. Traore is a really curious case, he started off shakily since taking over from Gibbs but have managed to shown a bit of quality with the Villa game being his best one. However, his performances have not been consistent and for the last 2 games (Everton and Bolton) was the weak link in Arsenal’s rearguard. The run of games will no doubt be a good experience for him and will not be overawed if used again in the future.
All in all, it was an important win for us as all our rivals won their respective matches as well. At this point of the championship, any slip-up or increase of gap may have a significant impact on the title race. Bolton is the opponent again and a win will put us back at the summit, something which we have not achieved since the starting week of the season.
Till tomorrow, have a good day.