We’re Better Without Cesc

If you listen to the excellent Arsenal podcast by actor and comedian Alan Davies, you will know that he regularly refers to our captain as Jesus.

And who would argue?

At times our little Spaniard does indeed seem to be the son of God (yes, that’s right – his dad really is Dennis Bergkamp).

And, at the risk of a little mild blasphemy, the similarities between our midfield Jesus and his Biblical predecessor are many.

Jesus fed the 5,000 with nothing more than five loaves and two fishes; Cesc regularly nourishes the 60,000 with nothing more than five half decent colleagues and (at least) two donkeys.

Jesus walked on water; Cesc pissed on Tottenham.

Jesus sits at the right hand of the father (Dennis); Cesc sits in the right of midfield, (with licence to roam forward when we’re in possession).

Jesus was tempted by Satan. Cesc was tempted by those satanic twunts at the Camp Nou.

But now, just like the Biblical Jesus, Cesc is experiencing a period in the wilderness: his dodgy hamstring won’t clear up; his touch has gone missing; his passing has deteriorated to its worst level since he started playing for Arsenal; his goals have dried up.

Quite frankly, right now we are a better team WITHOUT Cesc Fabregas.

I know this sounds like heresy. It even crossed my mind to attribute the opinion to someone else, then it would just sound like hearsay.

But I have to hold up my hands and admit it’s all my own.

The game at Villa Park showed how we can function perfectly well without our captain. Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin and Wilshere are all gifted footballers with creativity to spare and they combined well on Saturday.

There was a balance to the team and, crucially, there was not a misfiring piston at the heart of our machine.

When you think about it, our squad is probably better equipped than any in the EPL to cope without its leading creative playmaker.

I don’t believe Cesc’s form has been poor because his head (or heart) is in Barcelona. It’s just that, having played all the way to the World Cup Final and missed pre-season, he has never fully found his stride.

Added to that, his niggly hamstring problem has got into his head (is that a medical first?) to the extent that he is playing in the constant expectation of pulling it again.

At times he has been excellent (Man City away) at others woeful (at home against Newcastle he misplaced 27% of his passes).

You might say that, in that case, we should keep playing him because some of his performances may turn out to be good. But then you run up against the Thierry Henry problem (mentioned by Peaches yesterday): in his later period with us TH14 was so much the superstar of the team that the other players always tried to pass to him, even when there were better options on. This was fine when he was in world-beating form, but as his powers waned it meant we became less effective.

You can see it with the current team: when Cesc is playing he is so much our talisman that they automatically try to give him the ball in the expectation that he is the one who will make something happen.

So when he’s off his game, as he has been lately, most of our play is being channelled through a lame duck.

What some of these other players need is a run of winning games without Cesc, where they learn that they can do it on their own; that Arsenal Football Club would not collapse if he left; and that we (and they) are bigger than any single player. Maybe it was no coincidence that Arshavin had his best game of the season at Villa.

At the moment Cesc is being kept out because of his hamstring, even though the club has acknowledged that the injury is something of a mystery.

Personally, I think the hamstring gave Wenger the excuse he needed to drop his captain.

I hope he keeps Cesc out of the front line for several weeks, to the point where his physical and psychological issues have been well and truly ironed out. About a month would probably allow Cesc to recover fully, so that’s he’s raring to get back in the action.

If he can come back at anything like his best, we will reap the benefits for the second half of the season and, of course, a fit and firing Cesc Fabregas is one of the very best players in all the football world.

A month on the sidelines would bring him back at Christmas. I can’t think of a better time for the second coming of the Messiah.


53 Responses to We’re Better Without Cesc

  1. Morning

    Great post Rocky, the thought crossed my mind too.

    You only have to see how hungry Rooney was on his return to know that a few weeks sat in gentle contemplation might do Cesc the world of good too.

    I agree that we are in a great position to manage without Cesc, especially a poor Cesc.

  2. Jk says:

    I agree with you, if he is given a months rest he will be back fresh and sharp like last season. What makes me wonder is if he is playing with an injury why does aw continue to play him? Rvp has been given a lot of time off even now that he’s healed. Why hasn’t Aw come to his senses and do the same for his skipper.

  3. Carlito11 says:

    Cracking read as always RL! If the midfield can keep up Saturday’s form it would be quite a luxury to keep our Cesc powder dry until the Boxing Day game at home against the Chavs but I would like him back and firing for the game against Man Who in 2 weeks time.

  4. Rennie says:

    “Jesus walked on water; Cesc pissed on Tottenham.”


  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Topaz Aditia, Carl Roberton. Carl Roberton said: Are we better without Cesc? http://bit.ly/hi7mb6 #Arsenal […]

  6. Rasp says:

    Morning, great article Rocky.

    I have been banging on about giving Cesc a rest all season. He’s had hamstring problems since mid last season and has not had a rest for months. I don’t question his commitment, but this is a chronic injury that needs time to heal.

    The only slightly worrying aspect is that Arsène has shown a ruthless streak in the past by over-playing an injured player who he knows is going to leave (Henry, Vieira) – but I can’t see this being the case with Cesc. But the question as to why we wrap RvP in cotton wool and play an obviously unfit Cesc is puzzling.

  7. Flint McCullough says:

    Thoroughly agree, it is always a mistake to play less than fully fit players. Barca at home with Cesc, AA & Gallas all clearly not fit, is a good example.

    There are parallels to the Rooney situation here. Too much football for a number of years, without enough of a break, leads to burn out & injury. Send Cesc away for a month, to a beach somewhere, anywhere but Barcelona (& all that crap), then give him a pre-season to have him fully ready for the 2nd half of the season.

    There is no doubt we are a better team with a fully functioning Cesc in it, but we do have enough talent to survive without him.

  8. king gooner says:

    cesc needed a rest-that,s all-but it would be nice to have him ,fit & available for MANURE.can’t remember the last time we put out a FULL SIDE against those c**ts & we owe them big time!!

  9. Rasp says:

    On the subject of injuries, Almunia is taking a long time to heal 🙄

    Apart from the Andy Carol header, I can’t really fault Fab2 for any of the goals we’ve conceded lately although I am looking forward to seeing Chesney play in the CC and hopefully in the FA cup against Leeds.

  10. SharkeySure says:

    Wot a masterpice of a post Rocky.

    So many good points and some very very clever word play. Too many to start picking them out.

    I barely feel worthy to add any comments of my own!!

  11. Giddy says:

    “Jesus walked on water; Cesc pissed on Tottenham.”


  12. oneil says:

    what stands out most for me most is the Arshavin line (Maybe it was no coincidence that Arshavin had his best game of the season at Villa).
    ….i totally agree ..

  13. Rasp says:

    Hi oneil,

    As you can see from my avatar, I’m a big fan of the little Russian. I do sometimes question whether we have too many playmakers on the pitch and not enough making the runs. AA is a little genius and was only one shot on target off returning to his best form. The intricate passing between Nasri, AA and Rosicky with Chamakh being a target man and laying off to those three was excellent against Villa – would Cesc have been one playmaker too many?. Unwisely, Villa gave us room to play, I can’t see that being the case against manure.

  14. SharkeySure says:

    “There is no doubt we are a better team with a fully functioning Cesc in it, but we do have enough talent to survive without him.”

    Well said Flint. I agree completely

  15. Big Raddy says:

    Excellent post RL – you have a fine turn of phrase.

    SS. I agree with you about Flint’s comment. He is right.

    With Ramsey, Diaby, Denilson, Song, AA, Cesc, TR, Nasri and JW as our midfield, some could easily be sold on and the money spent on a monster DM/CB.

    But as good as the others are CF4 is head and shoulders the best player in our squad and perhaps the PL.

  16. Raif says:

    I’ve also been thinking Cesc might be holding us back a little it, for what reason I don’t know but there’s Something about his game that ain’t right,

    Nasri looks a little better in the middle when Cesc doesnt play, as appossed to when he’s pushed out wide when Cesc is playing,

    The longer his out the better for the time being

  17. Hey Raif – how are you 🙂

  18. Rasp says:

    Hi Raif,

    Great to hear from you. I think saturday proved that a fully fit Nasri/AA/Rosicky combo is a better option than a crocked Cesc and any two of the other three. Cesc is very good defensively and certainly better than AA, but again, only when he is fit.

  19. California Gooner says:

    I tend to agree with this analysis, but in a qualified way.I don’t think it is all Cesc’s fault. It is a social dynamic whereby players fail to asset themselves fully when he is around. I do think that Cesc has become the alpha-male, the unquestioned dominant, and that other players somewhat suffer from it. At his best, he will take a team that is playing well (like at Villa last year) and give it that extra drive to carry it over the top. At his worse, he will take penalties, even though Nasri is by far the better penalty-taker.

    Given the chance, my advice to Cesc would be somewhat Bhuddist: take it easy. That doesn’t mean he should lose his drive, but that he should show total trust in his teammates on the field to step up and do their job. When that happened on Saturday, the results were often magical. Sometimes, this year, it feels like he is forcing things; it shows in the needless fouls (and handballs), in the yellow cards and bickering with the ref, and in passes sent astray.

  20. SharkeySure says:

    “At his worse, he will take penalties, even though Nasri is by far the better penalty-taker.”

    Agreed Calif. Only problem is that Cesc is in my fantasy league team and Nasri isn’t 😉

  21. 26may1989 says:

    Great post Rocky, as ever.

    I’ve long felt that Cesc gets a pretty easy ride from Arsenal fans. Yes, he’s our best player and yes, he’s got injury problems at the moment but he’s had plenty of off-days that have passed by without much comment, especially in comparison with the reaction other players get.

    It’s not a problem that his performance levels vary, no player can maintain the highest standards all the time, but we seem to react differently when it comes to Cesc. We seem perfectly happy to question the technical, psychological, or physical abilities of other players but with Cesc we’re understanding and look for sympathetic explanations. In the comments posted in this blog, there are examples of that.

    As Rocky says, one of the key things is that we can both win and play our passing game without Cesc being on the pitch. So, while a fit and in-form Cesc will always be the first on the teamsheet, whether it’s due to injury or a dip in form, it is possible to drop/rest him (take your pick of terminology).

  22. Red Arse says:

    Nice one Rocky. 🙂

    Cesc is by far the best player we have.

    He is analogous to a Bentley, whereas the others in the team are a mixture of Porsches, Audis and a whole bunch of flash mini coopers, with the stress on the mini!

    Trouble is, if a Bentley, for some absurd reason, suffers from a mechanical fault that prevents it from travelling at more than 20 mph, I would prefer to use the crappy little mini to tootle from London to Brum.

    So, with a fit Cesc he should always be in the team — an unfit Cesc should be put in the garage and have his engine tuned and his bits twiddled and his shock absorbers repaired.

    [Clearly these are highly technical engineering expressions, so just trust me to be right] 🙂

  23. Wolfe says:

    Red Arse – I hope it’s not a David Bentley you’re referring to?

  24. RockyLives says:

    Hello All. Great pic Rasp – Cesc looks positively angelic.

    I was expecting a bit more flak for this post, but it seems to have touched a nerve.

    People have been talking about this being Cesc’s first spell of bad form since he became a first team regular, but I remember a couple of periods in past seasons where he has been below par for several weeks. I think it’s like Redders’ analogy – he’s such a highly tuned machine that if something is a little off the whol thing goes wonky.

  25. Carlito11 says:

    Rl- the same goes for RVP IMO. Never comes back firing after injury…

  26. RockyLives says:

    You’re right Carlito. RvP usually needs five or six games to get into his stride, then we’ll get three brilliant games out of him, then he’ll get crocked again and the pattern repeats itself…

  27. Carlito11 says:

    Reckon he’ll play tomorrow in the fizzy cup?

  28. Red Arse says:

    Carlito, good to hear from you. 🙂

    Nicely and succinctly put, and no long words involved! An occasional, misfiring, one legged RVP sums him up aptly.

    Please remember, when responding, I suffer from an acute case of hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. 😉

  29. California Gooner says:

    SharkeySure: if Nasri isn’t in your fantasy team, then surely you forfeit the right to ever criticize our real manager! I mean… BUY NASRI.

  30. California Gooner says:

    Sorry, I don’t really get the Bentley analogy. Are you just saying that a physically limited Cesc isn’t worth that much? That he is a high performance, but high precision kind of machine. Kind of obvious and somewhat wrong. He is as long as his tentative hamstring isn’t affecting his BRAIN. I really do thing the performance we saw at Villa had to with the fact that: 1. his replacements are pretty awesome themselves and 2. our movement was less predictable…

  31. Red Arse says:


    Sorry buddy, but, if you are referring to my comment, don’t sweat it. It’s just my way of encapsulating Cesc and if it doesn’t work for you, it’s no biggy. 🙂

  32. Rasp says:

    Hi Rocky,

    Yes I chose that pic because it made the captain of the team at the bottom of the Fair Play League, look like butter wouldn’t melt 😆

    Hi CG,
    I am in agreement that we are more predictable when Cesc plays simply because pretty much everything goes through him whereas when he’s not, we explore more options.

  33. Raif says:

    Hi Peaches / Rasp

    Been better, I’m sick as a dog 😦
    And things have been very hectic of late,

    And thanks to arsenals past results they haven’t made life pleasent, No bragging rights and a all round shite month,

    Though looking at the Wigan game I’m expecting a semi strong team to take us through,

    On the possible Pat Rice retirement Roumours,
    Well it’s time for someone new with fresh
    Ideas to come in, i would love Keown or Bould, but I know wenger will just hire a yes man

  34. RockyLives says:

    Martin Keown is the man to be AW’s number two if Ricey goes.

  35. xploderGames says:

    ‘Jesus walked on water; Cesc pissed on Tottenham.’

    Absoultely class haha 😛

  36. California Gooner says:

    RASP — nice to know you agree. One thing, however: more predictable probably means more consistent as well.

  37. Irishgunner says:

    Nice post there RockyL with some great lines – the best has been well highlighted 😆

    Cesc is our joint best player (Mozart 😉 ) but Nasri has been without doubt our best performer to date – Chamakh isn’t too shabby either….

    Anyway watching Barca vs Madrid tonight??? The one time I will shout for Mourinho.. well the 2nd, I shouted for Inter last season.

  38. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Peaches 9:44: “You only have to see how hungry Rooney was on his return”. So would you be if you had just done a two week stretch in solitary on meagre rations at The Nike Institute for persistant Granny Shagging.

  39. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Wash your mouth out with soap and water. Cesc son of DB10.
    Great post otherwise. With our abundance of silky skill merchants, I would swap him for Shweinsteiger. Like many great players who began their careers too early, middle aged crockedness comes early (Owen, Fowler etc).

  40. MickyDidIt89 says:

    There will be one cheesed off Mickydidit89 if this bloody snow stops him saddling up and riding to the capital on friday for saturdays’ game.

  41. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I’m off to talk to my cats. They’re cool. Meeow.

  42. RockyLives says:

    Jesus the son of God… Cesc the son of Dennis… works for me Micky.

  43. James says:

    We’re not better without Cesc, statistically we lose 20% more games without him.

  44. Rambo coming on for Forest now – sky sports 2

  45. RockyLives says:

    James, that’s a good stat. My point was that we’re better without Cesc at the moment.

  46. RockyLives says:

    Peaches – thanks for suggesting this post.

    Can’t believe Rambo’s coming on. I thought he was still several weeks away from competitive football. Does anyone know how long he’s on loan for?

  47. Just until the end of the year I think Rocky. He was pretty rusty, made some good passes and tried some that went astray.

    Rocky – I also thought we’d get some flak today but maybe the truth is there for all to see …….

  48. afc chazza says:

    very good post, but i dont think the midfield that played against villa would be able to do as good as they did then on a regular basis?

  49. […] We’re Better Without Cesc If you listen to the excellent Arsenal podcast by actor and comedian Alan Davies, you will know that he regularly […] […]

  50. adrian says:

    Never truer words. Sell the lad

  51. 26may1989 says:

    Awesome stuff from Barca tonight. We all hate the arrogance of the way they behaved in trying to get Cesc on the cheap by having him demand a move, and they won’t be forgiven for that, but I hate both Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho much more. A pleasure to see them both annihialated.

    Barca’s one/two touch, pass and move football and their intense pressing game were at their best, and Barca were as good as that first half at Ashburton last season. Many may say so what, but for the purist this was great stuff, and more importantly shows what we should aspire to.

    So Jose, we may not have won anything recently but despite the latest millions spent on your team, we did better against Barca than you did.

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