What will Fabregas mean for us, aka “A big, heaping dose of crow.”

Well, the deal that I didn’t think was going to happen, has happened. And we have lots coming up for you, including Linda waxing eloquent on why this deal rocks, and Euler’s tactical dissertation on what Fabregas will mean for us.

I have something simpler planned, a glancing blow at all of this. It’s also something that I know many looove to see me doing, and that’s eating crow. So here we go.

“We understand Cesc’s desire to move to his home-town club and have now accepted an offer from Barcelona,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “We have been clear that we didn’t want Cesc to leave and that remains the case. We thank Cesc for his contribution at Arsenal and wish him future success.”

Pep Guardiola, in a press conference after the 2-2 SuperCopa draw with the Evil Empire, said “Cesc grew up in Barcelona, and he became a huge player thanks to Mr Wenger and Arsenal, and now he is a better player than when he left. Now we will try and make him better.”

So now what?

Sandro RoSELL: I may never like him, but I have to admit that he did a kick-ass bit of business with this one. Do I think the price is too high? Yes. But that’s a philosophical argument. In the context of the current transfer market, no matter whose view you take and whose numbers you accept, it’s a helluva buy. Essentially, we got one of the world’s best young playmakers for a price that is almost a bargain (again, in current market context). Mind you, it helps as with Sanchez that we were the only suitor.

Normalized relations: Arsenal is the Premiership club that a great many of our supporters watch, when they aren’t watching the Good Guys. This transfer has brought out the worst in all sides. My fondest hope is now that it’s done, we can get back to that mutual admiration society that both clubs had. I have always, and will always wish Arsenal well, except when they’re playing us.

Yes, Fabregas will sit, and that’s good: Nothing has changed for Fabregas from when he left us, really. It’s still Xavi and Iniesta, the two players that spelled a dire future if he’d stayed, that keep him from starting for his country and will keep him from starting for us. And right now, that’s a good thing. As Arsenal’s captain and talisman, whenever he picked up an injury, a looming big match meant that he had to rush back. Recall the Champions League tie of the infamous “broken leg penalty kick.” He was nursing a hamstring injury, and re-aggravated it against us. The thing about hamstrings is if you don’t let them heal fully and properly, they become an ongoing problem. Playing 20-25 matches a season instead of 50, will be a very good thing. It’s also worth noting that our miracle-working medicos haven’t gotten their hands on him yet.

Pressure is good: Guardiola believes in competition at all positions. This summer, he addressed the last two positions that lack real competition for slots: attacking midfielder and the false 9. Yes, this means you, Xaviniesta and Messi. Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez are world-class talents, who are best at positions presently occupied by talismanic players. No, I don’t see Fabregas or Sanchez displacing Xavi or Messi. But it’s nice that Guardiola has those kinds of talents to put pressure on them to excel.

Pressure is good, rest is better: Xavi played a lot for the club last season, for the simple reason that nobody else could do what he did. That isn’t true any longer. I don’t know what Xavi’s tendons are telling him, but it will be nice to have a viable, world-class option to slot in. Xavi shouldn’t have to play against Sporting Gijon on Sunday, when there’s a Champions League match on Tuesday, never mind the dictates of a Liga that will mean losing a single match could be dire. Suddenly being able to add Fabregas to a mix that includes Thiago and Iniesta (and Afellay, let’s not forget) is a wonderful thing.

Versatility ain’t bad, either: Let’s not forget that Fabregas began life as a DM. At 5’9:, he isn’t going to be the tradional, physical DM, but you can certainly see him adapting to play a Busquets type of defensive midfielder, if called upon. A midfield of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas (at DM) would probably never give up the ball. It’s a nice option to have.

And then there’s chemistry: Fabregas isn’t the La Masia wunderkind that he was. Thanks to Arsene Wenger and being forged on the anvil of Premiership football, I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that he’s better than he would have been had he stayed with us. But at the same time, we shouldn’t discount that La Masia is in his playing style, and his chemistry with his Spain teammates (as with David Villa) will be of immense help in his adjustment period, which should be about 12 seconds long.

The Guardiola factor: Fabregas learned a lot under Wenger, but let’s not forget that at age 24 he is still growing into his game, and still improving. I suspect that part of the desire to leave was not only to reach that next level (potentially) as a player, but to learn from a coach who has made everyone and everything around him better. I had a debate with someone on Twitter about the absurdity of the notion that Fabregas would learn more from Guardiola than Wenger. But it isn’t in those terms. There’s prep school, and finishing school. I do believe that Guardiola, along with Xavi, can hone Fabregas that last little bit, into a player who will be able to slide directly into that Xaviesque role, keeping it warm for Thiago.

He’s direct: In defending Xavi, I once said that Xavi is the can opener, the guy who makes the pass that sets up the assist. So Xavi’s assist statistics are never all that gaudy, even as his presence on the pitch is devastating to defenses. Fabregas can not only make that can opener pass, but the direct assist, as well. Again, being used to the Premiership style isn’t a bad thing. We also shouldn’t forget that Guardiola has a player in Messi, who will be able to run onto the end of those direct balls. And he bought another one, in Alexis Sanchez. Fabregas will make our style more direct, which isn’t a bad thing.

So yes, I have labeled him Oft-Crocked Glory Hunter, a luxury purchase and political pawn in the electoral battles between Joan Laporta and Sandro RoSELL. I believed his price was too high, and that we were spending almost 40m for a benchwarmer. And now that he is here, and in full consideration of the above, I am eating a bit (okay, a lot) of crow. But if the purchase works out the way that it promises to on paper, I kinda don’t mind at all.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Anyone else think it’s funny that Fabregas is now a Barcelona player and is all of the sudden healthy enough to participate in a training session?

    1. He was fit before to train – and he did so once or twice with arsenal after he got back from vacations. He just wasnt settled to be included into the match squad.

  2. Mostly been back to lurking lately, but I’m just here to say hooray for Cesc, and what a great game yesterday. Victor is a monster, and Villa’s goal made a perfect trio along with the one against Sevilla last year and the one in the CL final. I’m really looking forward to more of that this year.

    Like everyone, not too fond of Keita at DM. We all missed Busi’s distribution. People have mentioned how Cesc could play DM in a pinch, but another thought I had: if Busi is unavailable, what about playing Cesc, Iniesta and Xavi in the midfield with Xavi the furthest back? Xavi isn’t going to tackle like Masch, but he certainly would know how to link up between the defensive line and the play further up the pitch. You’d need two strong CBs and fewer mistakes giving the ball away, but as we all know, possession is our defense….

    Alexis’s play when he leapt over the tackle and continued down the wing made me gasp out loud. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do.

    Also, amused that Barça TV made a Cesc video to “Every Breath You Take”. Didn’t anyone tell them the song’s about a creepy stalker who won’t leave the object of their desire alone? I’m sure our Gunner trolls think it’s just perfect. 🙂


    1. For as angry as we might have been at Cesc (unjustly) for drawing that penalty against Puyol, Cesc never celebrated scoring against us. And knowing his integrity, he will never celebrate scoring against Arsenal too.

    2. Thats totally fine with me. As long as he doesn’t pull the nonsense Henry did at the Emirates during his last season with us and basically refuse to play against Arsenal I will be happy.

    3. Most definitely. Luckily, we’ll soon find out as we’re inevitably destined to draw Arsenal in the Champions League Round of 16 this year.

      Bonus destiny: RM will definitely draw Chelsea. The Villas-Boas / Mourinho stories practically write themselves!

    4. We’re getting Udinese or Arsenal in the qualifiers group stages, most definitely. Sanchez on one side, Cesc on the other. No matter what result, narrative still works.

    5. I would love to have Fabregas and Alexis in the same room to watch the Arsenal-Udinense match tomorrow.

      Arsenal fans are making me feel like a bad person for sort of wishing Arsenal lose and fall out of the Champions League before September.

  3. Watching City v Swansea right now. I don’t care much but the oldest kid likes the EPL and has it on. Just wanted to let y’all know that CAPTAIN The Yaya just took a shot 🙂

    1. I just love that he’s been made the captain. I will always wish him well! His team? not so much!

    2. I agree, but it’s getting so hard to hate Man City these days. They have The Yaya, Silva, Joe Hart, Kun. Luckily, they also still have De Jong, Balotelli, and (soon) Nasri (who I just for some reason cannot stand, no matter how talented he is. I find him impossible to like for no specific reason.).

    3. I don’t get why ManCity (or at least Mancini) want Nasri so bad. They do already have two young and promising players on his position, Silva and Johnson (I like Johnson a lot, he’s one of the most gifted English footballers, from a technical point of view).
      Kun is a playing striker, the Yaya also plays quite offensive for City.
      Nasri should think twice before leaving.

      On the other hand, the prospect of staying at Arsenal… *cough*

  4. I am one of the biggest fan’s of Cesc. Soooo happy. I cannot begin to imagine the possiblities when he is playing in the midfield.

    Tribute to his last year’s season:
    The series is a 3 part series for his 2010-2011 season.

    This is for his 2009 – 2010 season.

    1. I came in here to post the exact same thing! No matter how much anyone dislikes the transfer, these pictures are adorable. The one with Pep, the hug with Iniesta. It’s true love! 😀

      Oh, and look at Messi’s muscles! Nom nom nom.

    2. Just came back on to post the pics and was too late…again!

      Happy happy happy squad.

      And yeah, I noticed Leo’s guns. Juanjo’s been doing a good job!

    3. Missing: The picture of Cesc opening his new locker to find that Pique has filled it with jam. 😛

      (or something similar, you know it’s going to happen)

  5. Also, guys, the happier Pep is with his squad, the more likely he is to sign on for another year. Another good reason to be happy with this transfer.

    1. All this giddy happiness has got to stop. We’re cules darnit and I’m not sure that we’re allowed to be happy/optimistic. Can somebody check the handbook to see if such things are banned.

    2. Read the handbook, it says it’s temporarily admissible if overall there is a sense of impending doom. So….
      */ cue Tomas Roncero ‘s righteously indignant voice/
      OMG we tied EE at home in the first legit the super cup, it’s the end of a cycle i tell you

    3. Read the handbook, it says it’s temporarily admissible if overall there is a sense of impending doom. So….
      */ cue Tomas Roncero ‘s righteously indignant voice/
      OMG we tied EE at home in the first leg of the super cup, it’s the end of a cycle i tell you

  6. Haha, just reading through the loveblob, this was classic:

    blitzen: i often think villa pl;ays better on the right
    Michelle: Blitzen – his “curse” of being really right footed but ambidextrous enough to be “used” on the left where he isn’t as strong
    Miguel: Villa can be played into space better on the right, me thinks
    astrosa: GOL!!!!
    Extreme barca fan: goallllllllllllllllll
    FC SWACI: villa!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Michelle: GOLAZOOOOOO
    cliveee: Villa is invisible
    Miguel: ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    messi_fan: VILAAAAAAa
    justin: villla!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Kari: cliveeee, he’s not now
    jordi(TM): oh shi!
    astrosa: OUT OF NOTHING!
    justin: that wwas amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    blitzen: lol cliveeeee
    […More VILLA MARAVILLA !!!!!!11!!!!…]
    cliveee: Your comment has been seOMGGGGGGGGGGGGG
    cliveee: just when i said he was invisible!!!!@!#@$%^%&*^
    Miguel: You have my permission to stay on the left, Villa

    1. Only reason I didn’t chime in was that I was too busy waking up the neighbours. That effort was sweet..

      He was totally alone there, I got a feeling he’d shift and shoot, and he did! Notice the massive dip and little to no swerve on the ball. Dunno if he meant it, but that was a fabulous strike..

    2. for the record, i was on a veetle stream which was 10 years behind, so…. and I almost fell off my chair when that goal came.


      Kxevin once said the best goal does not depend on beauty or difficulty, but occasion. But we saw one hell of a difficult and beautiful goal in a huge occasion. Worth more crazy yelling from RayRay…

  7. Someone mentioned it above, but I really appreciated how Cesc thanked Thiago for “letting” him wear the number 4. Thiago didn’t have any real claim on it — he wore it with Barça B, and he wore it over the summer (but lots of people wore numbers that weren’t theirs over the summer), but he was never officially issued that number by the first team.

    So Cesc could have just ignored Thiago entirely and claimed the number. The fact that Cesc chose to have a conversation with Thiago and thank him tells me he understands the dynamics of the situation he’s getting himself into, the competition that exists for minutes and in people’s minds, and he’s handling it in a classy way.

    1. or maybe he didn’t make any of those considerations. perhaps he is just a very classy individual who recognized the fact that another person was holding a number for him, did a grand job, and so he wanted to thank him out of common decency and class, even though he definitely didn’t have to.

  8. Praise God!

    Busquets joined the group at training today.

    Best. News. Ever. In at least the past hour(good news day)!

    1. KUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he and dzeko are perfect together, adding nasri with silva and the yaya and already thats an absurd team going forward

    2. …As a sub!

      I’m not keen on meeting them in the CL (very physical and often over-aggressive defensive players), but I will support them in the EPL title race. ManUtd doesn’t deserve to win another title, they’ve started the season with another poor performance but 3 points. I’ve seen enough of such lucky matches last season^^
      And the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool look weaker than the two Manchester clubs – so go City!

  9. Aguero is a going to destroy the EPL, but we already knew that. So glad hes not at Madrid.

  10. GuillemBalague:
    Barcelona confirms: 29 milion euros fixed. If FCB win 2 leagues and 1 champions they will pay 5 more. Plus 5 from Cesc wages. 5 year deal

    In the next five years, presumably. So Arsenal now have a vested interest in our winning La Liga and the Champions League. The trolling opportunity from this fact is immense, but we shall rise above it. 😛

  11. Bartomeu (vice-president): “We never considered a transfer of Thiago. We renewed him sooner to end the debate about him and Cesc.” [rac1]


  12. Wenger (coach Arsenal): “Maybe Cesc will come back one day to Arsenal, you never know.” [arsenal.com]

    OK, now I think he’s just trolling.

  13. Great article as always Kxevin.

    I’m really happy with this signing, as Marti Perarnau said: Xavi is 32, Iniesta 27? Now we have Cesc and Afellay with 24 and Thiago with 20. That gives a sensation of having quality players to replace the ones that are getting older. I think that Xavi has a few more years still, but seen Cesc gives me peace of mind. I algo believe that Thiago isnt quite ready yet. I’m really optimist with this summer signings, and although I dont like Rosell that much (making extremely dificult for foreign fans to be members of the club) I recognize that these were good, (maybe the best) negotiations, to a club that used to pay a little more lately.

    I’m eager to read the articles by Linda and Euler about cesc, I usually am the pessimist fan, but now I’m really positive about this year, maybe Pep stays after all. I hope that we dont have any long term injuries, and I also hope that Puyi recovers well.

  14. I will defer all my opinions until we see some play from Cesc on the pitch. Regardless, you’ve got to feel good as Barca simply hasn’t had this kind of arsenal in recent memory, so as long as we can keep our back’s healthy and Villa doesn’t implode life is looking bright.

    Speaking of Man City, great to see Kun perform for well for a team that cares. Think he plays well with Silva? Wow. Question – Will Balotelli ever see the pitch again with Kun there and aerial threat from Dzeko?

    1. Balotelli will certainly be a bench warmer and not feature in the important matches at all, unless Aguero or Dzeko (or maybe even Tevez, if he stays) are injured.

      The few moments that he has on the pitch, he’ll probably do some crazy stuff to get sent off or to be taken out by Mancini again ^^

  15. I was just thinking… Has there ever been a bigger collection of wankers than the current EE squad?
    I swear that Florentino is just hand-picking every footballer that gets under my skin and signs him up to fuck with my brain.
    Okay, I may be just imagining it but with the exception of Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas I can’t stand any of there players. And it is not just cause they play with EE, I’ve hated some of them for years.

    Carvalho, I’ve hated since I first saw him with Porto and then disliked him more when he joined Chelsea.
    Pepe – should have been banned from playing football after the Getafe incident
    Marcelo – He is like an extreme version of Dani Alves – a bigger diver and a dirtier tackler.
    X.Alonso – I used to like but now all he does is foul even though tackling wasn’t much part of his game at Sociedad or Liverpool
    Khedira – isn’t a footballer, just a dude that can run a lot, and tried to kill Abi
    Di Maria – can’t stay on his feet for more than four steps, it might be a medical condition but his face annoys me.
    Ronaldo – see above then multiply it by however million he was both for.

    And then they go around signing the likes of Adebayor last season and Callejon this. Maybe it is actually a practical joke, where are the cameras?

    1. I hate to say it but I’ve come to defend Pepe. The Getafe thing was a case of outrage over a blatant, cowardly dive. In a world of divers, its hard not to find that admirable despite the ridiclous reaction.

      Also, the foul on Alves over the weekend was a foul, but not a yellow card, he made no contact with the foot.

      If anyone here is familiar with with American Hockey, he seems like a Chris Pronger…a player that everyone hates, he plays ugly & physical, greatly slows down teams with superior talent…yet everyone would have him on their team in a heartbeat given the chance.

      Trust me, that’s where any defense of EE players end for me, minus the captain.

    2. Pepe is a big time THUG. The Getafe incident was atrocious and I don’t think the getafe guy dived the fall is too clumsy. And what about the lyon game where he should have got like 3 red cards? The guy has behavior problems and instead of addressing them Mou is endorsing them and using them… And that foul that on Alves was definetly a yellow card. Football is not American Hockey.

    3. No way man, you gotta add in Ramos. He’s got to be one of the most overrated players I’ve seen in a long time. Can’t handle Messi at all, so he just takes him out, sits on him, or whatever else he can think of.

      Casillas is the best on their team, but even he’s starting too whine too much.

      In any case, I agree about YAYA%. I’ve never been anti-Madrid before. I’ve reveled in the rivalry, and I’m really competitive, but I’ve always had a certain respect for EE. They were a worthy rival and I wanted them to do well in Europe (but still crash out) just to show some solidarity with a fellow Liga club. Not anymore. Not even close.

      Oh, but I like Higuain tho.

    4. With Sergio, I can’t forget the end of the manita. I’m sure he was frustrated, but his behavior was still infantile and embarrassing.

      Sergio and CR7 are like cartoon villains though, I can’t truly despise them like I do Pepe and Arbeloa.

    5. In any case, I agree about YAYA%. I’ve never been anti-Madrid before. I’ve reveled in the rivalry, and I’m really competitive, but I’ve always had a certain respect for EE. They were a worthy rival and I wanted them to do well in Europe (but still crash out) just to show some solidarity with a fellow Liga club. Not anymore. Not even close.

      This x YAYA. I’m not the kind of guy that “learns to hate” his team’s rivals. For all the history, I could never bring myself to hate the NY Mets or RM. Cherish the rivalry and all, but not fabricate some plastic “hatred” just because it’s expected.

      Thus I never felt anything more than a mild dislike for RM before last spring. But the absolutely embarrassing way in which that club handled the 4 Clasicos off the field made me lose almost any respect I had for that institution. It’s one thing for some fans to be petty, spiteful ogres. It’s quite another thing for a club’s upper management to act like that. The term “verguenza ajena” (something like “feeling shame for someone else”) applies here.

    6. Same, I only really absolutely completely hated them after last year only. And even then I felt somewhat sorry for the institution.

      Higuain is easily my favorite player on the team, I quite like him. I like Oezil too. I hate Arbeloa, Marcelo and Carvalho for their sneaky thuggery, Di Maria not for the incessant diving alone as much as the hypocrisy and making a fuss about us in those minutes between dives. I don’t really hate Ramos, I mean I dislike him a lot on the pitch but he doesn’t seem like a malicious person a la Arbeloa and his ‘look if the ref is elsewhere and sneakily bodycheck or stamp on someone forty yards away from the play just cos’ play. Pepe is too much of a thug as well.

      I don’t dislike Khedira or Benzema. And I actually don’t dislike Ronaldo, I used to like his United side and root for them in the EPL or when Barca/Valencia weren’t in the CL, but have become completely neutral about EPL clubs since he and Tevez left and the side became a lot less fun (which also coincided with our treble). That side and him in it were a very fun side to watch. I know he scores a lot more now but I think he did a lot more back then, when he had a reputation as one of the more reliable aerial threats in the league and would dominate games and have the occasional bit of spectacular and drag United through everything. Now he seems more like his play is just about being a very very good finisher, which might be all RM need from him since they have plenty of creative talent already but still. I used to like him as a player back then, now I don’t like him but I don’t dislike him either. He seems more like that one ridiculously vain friend everyone has who when you go out checks his hair in the side window every time you walk by a parked car.

    7. Yes…I like Ozil too. Wish he had signed with anybody else.

      Casillas is a great keeper and a 90% decent guy, but he also seems to have drunk the Mou koolaid. Disappointed with a lot of his interviews in the last year.

      Ramos incredibly overrated. He hasn’t been good since the WC, in my opinion.

    8. I’m a cule but also an Ozil fan. Of all the players in the world that are not playing for Barca but look like they should be, it would be him. Not athletic but brainy footballer and his one touch is Barcelonesque. Maybe we can do a reverse Figo on him.

    9. Come on, guys. Do we really need this kind of post, outlining why we hate each player in RM?

      I’ll say that I get the impression of Casillas and Ozil being genuinely good people, and that I abhor some of the actions of some of their players, but this kind of talk is not becoming of us, no?

    10. It’s an achievement that you do not hate Ramos. I can’t really stand him. One of my least favorite EE players. And Casillas is also getting on my nerves.

    1. Thanks for the vid Kari… !
      Damn I hadn’t notice the Marcelo stomp on Alexis. So I see he continues where he left off with the stomp on Pedro. This sleezy stuff just drive me crazy and to think that they are whinning afterwards…arghh…It’s stuff like these that made the Incredible Hulk

    2. Sometimes they seem to be in kamikaze-mode, and I think that’s thanks to Mourinho!

      Just look at the way Marcelo is running after the players, it’s like a predator that is after its prey…
      People said that this Clasico was not dirty, but that’s only because last seasons were excessively unfair.
      I still think that RM did a lot of kicking and nasty little trips from behind.

      Compared to a usual football match, even the SuperCup Clasico was dirty -_-

      And still, all they complain about is our diving and play-acting (which Dive Maria and Marceloa themselves are renowned for). But at least we play without the intent to kick the opponent and possibly hurt him.

  16. Just occured to me – know what would be a classless joke from Puyol et al? If once we win the SuperCopa, they handed the captain’s armband to Cesc. That way he’d to lift a trophy 2 days after signing for us.

    1. That would be too funny. But even as it is there would be jokes ‘six years without a trophy for Arsenal and he gets one on his debut’ if we win.

  17. It was a cheap knock off but the question is where will he play on the pitch? DM is an option but he hasn’t played in that position for years so it will take some time adapting to the tactic. Benchwarmer or starting then taken off as a centre midfielder will be his position. I think he knows that otherwise he wouldn’t have gone back to Barcelona. He will also get more of a go with the Spain National Squad as he has come back. I saw that Del Bosque wasn’t using Alonso until he came to Spain where he used him alot. It will interesting how well he plays at Barcelona.

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