For those of you that were there when we thumped Everton 7-0 on a Wednesday night at Highbury in May 2005, you might recall singing ‘one more year’ to the tune of ‘here we go’ over and over again for the last 20 minutes.
It was our last home game of the season, with a cup final to look forward to, so why were all our voices in accord that evening? The whole of Highbury were saluting the genius of one man, who if I recall correctly, came on as second-half substitute and we were imploring him to sign a one-year extension to his current deal at the club – this man of course was none other than Dennis Bergkamp , and he did indeed sign on for one final year.
Now the circumstances are not the same in 2011, but one could certainly argue that we need Fabregas for one more year now, more than we needed ‘the Iceman’ in 2005. Dennis was in his mid 30’s, and whilst still a remarkable player, the team was not built around him or reliant on him as it had been in earlier years. Indications this week are that Cesc will stay as he has told us himself that only monsieur Wenger can make the decision to sell him and will not ask to leave. However, he will return to Barcelona one day, and with Xavi turning 32, you have to think 2011/12 could be the ‘one more year’ for our skipper.
So I hope he stays, and I hope, as I have said in a previous article last week, that we revert to a four man midfield, but only last week I thought that would be without our uniquely talented Spaniard. With a stronger back four, as we had in the 1998, 2002 and 2004, we do not need a genuine holding midfield player. So I hope we do give the traditional formation a go, but either way, Fabregas will thrive. He is not necessarily a genuine goal-scoring central midfielder yet, but like the great Dutchman before him boy can he create goals for those around him.
I have heard so many tributes to the retiring Paul Scholes, and heard him described as a one of the greatest creative central midfielders of the Premiership era. And for years we have had to suffer the boring debate about which of Lampard or Gerrard is the greater.
Well I am happy to tell you all that when it comes to creativity, vision and pure improvisation, none of them compare to our Spanish talisman. Fabregas was the youngest player in Premiership history to reach 100 assists. In fact, Fabregas reached 100 assists in only 190 games, creating an Arsenal league goal more than every other game. It took the mighty Paul ‘I never learnt to tackle’ Scholes 325 games to reach the same milestone. This is the player that Zidane describes as the greatest English player of his generation? It took Gerrard 332 games and Lampard 354 games to create 100 league goals and before you comment that they both score more goals check your facts. Neither Lampard nor Gerrard came close to scoring double figures in a league season until they were 25, and Cesc did so in 2009/10 at the tender age of 22. At 23, Cesc has 35 league goals for the Gunners, and at the same age, Gerrard and Lampard had 20 and 12 respectively.
I have given you plenty of evidence there to suggest that our enigmatic captain is the best creative central midfielder in the Premiership in this century. Of course what he is missing to go with this mercurial talent are Arsenal trophies and for that we need proper sensible investment this summer from Wenger and the backing from the board.
By sensible investment I do mean in proven experience Arsene, not unproven French potential. It is not a case now of what Fabregas owes Arsenal, but what Arsenal owes him.
So let’s make the right defensive signings, keep our best players, and ensure that if our skipper gives us ‘one more year’, he can leave England with more than just incredible statistics, but with a Premiership winner’s medal around his neck, and like Bergkamp, as a true Arsenal legend.
Read more of David Seager’s articles at Gunnersphere