Over the last few years, Arsenal have played with a formation that was developed and best suited around Cesc Fabregas, and eventually, Samir Nasri.
A lot of people claimed after this summer’s sales of the midfield duo, that Arsenal will have to change their style of play and formation and one person who believes this must happen is Andrey Arshavin.
Undoubtedly, Arsenal have endured a terrible start to the new campaign. First off, we lost our twon most influential players during the summer and as if that wasn’t bad enough, we suffered an 8-2 hammering at the hands of title rivals Manchester United last weekend, leaving us with just a point from our first three opening games.
Arsene Wenger’s response to this was bringing in two new midfielders – Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun – on transfer deadline day, but Arshavin says his old team-mates – Nasri and Fabregas – are irreplaceable.
Well, statistics show that since August 2009 and February 2011, Arsenal’s win percentage with Fabregas was 68%, winning 32 out of 47 matches in which he took part in. Without Fabregas, the win percentage was 44%, winning only 8 of 18 games without him in the same time period.
Fabregas has scored 57 goals in his Arsenal career, racking up 100 assists along the way. He either scores or directly creates a goal more than once in every two games he played for the Gunners.
With Cesc: the average goals against us were 0.91, average goals for 2.05, win 60%, and points/game – 2.03.
Without Cesc: the average goals against were 1.02, average goals for 1.56, win 48% and the points/game – 1.73.
The stats don’t tell the whole story, but they do tell how much of an influence he was to the team.
The media and some fans may have said he wasn’t that good of a leader, but with the number of goals against lower with him than without him, proves otherwise.
While statistics for Nasri, since his arrival in 2008, show that whenever he was in the starting line-up, Arsenal won 49% of their games and without him 62%. Goals per game with him in the line-up were 1.67 and without him were 2.75. Clearly Fabregas will be missed more of the two, despite Nasri having a few good games for us.
Recently, Andrey Arshavin was quoted by Russian newspaper Sport-Express saying:
‘With Arteta or whoever replaces those who have left, we will play different football, not as we played with Cesc and Samir.’
‘At the moment, losing Fabregas and Nasri is a catastrophe.’
‘Watching the Udinese match I said to [Nicklas] Bendtner that now we have no-one so comfortable with passing the ball to Robin Van Persie or who ideally utilises the qualities of the other forwards. He smiled and replied, ‘Yes, the only player who could properly replace Cesc is probably Xavi.’
‘I’m very glad that I was able to play in the same team as Fabregas – he is a truly class footballer. When people say no-one is irreplaceable I don’t agree.’
I for one agree with the Russian, as Fabregas has the highest goal creation per minute ratio of all the players in Europe.
Take the 09/10 season for example, he had an average of 3.9 chances created per game.
Wilshere, who is out with an ankle injury for 2-3 months, and Ramsey are being tipped to replace the Spaniard and the Frenchman in midfield.
Although both are great young players, Fabregas’ vision is, if I’m not mistaken, is up there with the world’s best. Though Wilshere comes close, I think none of our other players can compare to our former captain in terms of delivering those long, arching balls through or over the oppositions defence.
All we can do now is watch and see how our season unfolds without out star midfield duo. Hopefully a new mid field maestro will emerge from the ashes of this season’s early collapse.
Taaza Banda writes regularly for Gunnersphere.com