FFC columnist Johnny Smithers continues with his Premiership head to head’s and in the 5th installment of his six part series, he focuses his attentions to central midfield.
As we are about to conclude the important Christmas period and embark on 2008, I have decided to look back over the first half of this season and pick out, in a series of head to heads, the players who have really stood out so far this season. Some have been crackers like Cristiano Ronaldo and some have been complete turkey’s like Darren Bent. In this latest head to head I have focused my attention to central midfield and the battle between Cesc Fabregas and Steven Gerrard.
Steven Gerrard is without doubt the finest English central midfielder this country has probably seen since Paul Gascoigne. He has every attribute you could hope for in a centre midfielder with high energy, passion, superb tackler, set-piece taker and is able to get you at least 15 goals a season. On occasions he has single handedly carried Liverpool to victory with vital goals and his never say die attitude has made him captain fantastic and he is certainly assured of his place in Anfield folklore.
There really is no weakness to his game which is why I never understand those who criticise him and bemoan his selection in the national side. Those who honestly think that Frank Lampard is a better alternative, clearly have a short sighted view on football. The England midfield should be built around Steven Gerrard as he is one of the few World class players we have in this country, so he should not be dumped out on the right, the left or the holding role in midfield to accommodate others. Why as a nation do we constantly play players out of position?
I appreciate that there will be many out there who will come on with comments he is overrated and has he tendency to go down far too easy, but if you can pinpoint a better English central midfielder in the country then please tell me. If Steven Gerrard came out tomorrow and said he wanted a transfer from Liverpool, every top club in Europe would fight for his signature. You could also bet your bottom dollar that the likes of Wenger and Ferguson wouldn’t be too far behind.
Love him or hate him, one thing you can never argue is that this boy has talent. Plucked from the youth team of Barcelona; few would argue if Arsene Wenger was to come out and claim the Spaniard could be the best signing he has made during his time at the club.
If Steven Gerrard can stake claim to being the best English midfielder in the country then surely Cesc is certainly the best foreign one. Fabregas is a player of high energy, remarkable strength for someone so slight, he tackles well and his skill level and passing ability is of the highest order. If there was one criticism aimed at the Spaniard in previous seasons was his lack of goals but he has more than made up for that with a healthy return so far this season.
His array of passing, dare I say is Hoddle esque and his vision and composure on the ball is incredible in one so young. There really are very few weaknesses in his game apart from his temperament which must be described as feisty at best.
Cesc Fabregas is living proof that World class players exist in the Premiership. Like Stevie G, he could have his pick of any team in Europe should he wish to break his long and lucrative Arsenal contract and the Premiership would be a poorer place without his presence in it.
If I thought comparing Gallas and Vidic was tough then this is a whole different ball game. Both players are World class and have few weaknesses that would make one different from the other. I have to judge the players on this season alone; therefore I would have Cesc slightly ahead on points. Stevie G is notoriously a late starter anyway who always blossomed during the business end of the season so come May, my opinion would probably sway but at this moment in time Fabregas would get the nod, but only just.