‘Arsenal can live without Cesc Fabregas if he wants to go’
If captain heads to the Nou Camp this summer then so be it, no player is bigger than the club
THE title is well beyond Arsenal now – but in truth it has been for some time. They have just not looked like a team who could string together a run of wins ever since things started to go wrong at the end of February.
But I don’t feel that a radical overhaul is needed. This squad has some very good players and this team is not far away from being a very good one.
Clearly though, something is not right. The balance of the side is just too attacking, and that is because Arsenal’s midfield is technically fantastic but defensively weak.
The defence has taken a lot of the criticism and while there is an argument for a more commanding centre-back to be brought in, Thomas Vermaelen will be fit next season and he did not look too bad last year.
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The defence cannot do it all on their own – Arsenal are a small team and lose out physically because they play too many attack-minded players in midfield who do not offer enough defensively.
Jack Wilshere has been nothing short of sensational this season, but when he plays together with Cesc Fabregas and you also have Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri in your startting XI, you are going to struggle to win the midfield battle.
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I was commentating on the derby at White Hart Lane last week, and was asked what I thought would happen in the second half and, well, you knew Arsenal needed to score again to win. You knew that not conceding again for 45 minutes was beyond them.
Arsene Wenger does not need to change everything, but one big question mark hangs over Fabregas.
His comments last week, whatever he really said, smacked of frustration and we all know Barcelona will come calling again this summer.
Nobody at the club will admit it, but if they get the right offer I feel there is every chance he will go this time. But if he does, it may not be the disaster everyone thinks it will be.
Fabregas is a world-class player, one of the best, but no player has ever been bigger than the club. Look at Manchester United, they lost Cristiano Ronaldo who was scoring 50 goals a season, and they carried on.
Arsenal are the same, and it may even help balance up that midfield.
But decisions for the summer can wait. Arsenal still have four games to play this season and a visit from United to worry about on Sunday.
I can’t see United slipping up now. They are so far clear they can now afford to lose this game and still be champions, but Arsene will want his players to show everyone what they are made of with a big performance.
It won’t bring back another lost season or win a trophy, but it would put a few smiles back on Arsenal faces.