How Would You Replace Cesc?

Morning – Dev is away at the moment, so I’m stepping once more unto the breach. Two posts from me in one week, you lucky bastards.

I’ve read a lot of posts/comments/blogs in the last day or two suggesting that the win at the weekend completely underlined Arsenal’s strength in midfield and that the trio of Ramsey, Wilshere and Song would mean that we no longer required Cesc’s services. I’m not so sure.

For a start, Arsenal already lack leaders and I do not think a 20 year old injury returnee (Ramsey) is ready to fill the void left by our club captain a World/European Champion. Sure he deputised magnificently against United, but let’s face it – the team put in a fantastic performance all round. It’s not when the team are playing well that players really shine, it’s when you’re playing badly, a goal or two down – that’s when great players shine. And Fabregas has done that for us. Maybe not as often as I’d like but he’s the best we’ve got at it.

So whilst the future is undoubtedly Wilshere/Ramsey in the middle, the future isn’t now. Losing Fabregas and promoting internally without replacing him would be madness at the moment. We did it with Vieira, and consequently we’ve only just started to regain our competitiveness. Would we really want to set the club back another 5 years?

Ignoring Denilson who begins to resemble a rabbit caught in the headlights more as each new day passes on and Rosicky who wears concrete boots, it would also only leave us with 4 ‘classic’ midfielders. Wilshere, Song, Ramsey and Diaby. There is hardly any real experience or leadership there. All great players, Wilshere the most advanced currently, but not enough to win a championship I don’t think. The technical ability is clearly there, I’d have all 4 of those players above 99% of the premiership, but Wilshere aside, none of them have shown that tenacity, grit or willingness to drag a team through a rough patch yet.

So, in my mind the only viable alternative is a full replacement. If Cesc were to leave, Arsenal would simply have to replace him to remain competitive.

Now I’m far more receptive of this idea – Cesc’s season hasn’t been the greatest, he’s begun to exhibit a worrying string of injuries, and I firmly believe that a big money bid might not be the worst thing that could happen to Arsenal. I should point out, that I absolutely adore Cesc and would prefer to keep him, but as far as “what if’s” go, I wouldn’t be heartbroken if he left.

This season Arsenal have fallen short in one key area for me. The midfield. We have a great goalkeeper, solid back four and a good array of attacking talent. What we don’t have is a Kevin Nolan, or a Steven Gerrard, or a Yaya Toure, or a Scott Parker. A player who will take a match and take everybody with him. I suspect that had Arsenal featured a player like that this season, we would have won the league. The league was in our hands just a few games ago and we lost our grip. A player like Nolan would not have let that happen – he dragged his own team from four goals down to rescue a point don’t forget.

Wilshere may well be that player shortly, but he isn’t quite there yet – there have been times this season that alongside Fabregas, Wilshere has looked like he had the entire game on his shoulders. He looked like he was the only player who wanted to win.

Can you imagine two players with that attitude in the middle of the pitch?

That might sound harsh on Fabregas – his season has been wrecked by injury and he hasn’t had a chance to build any consistency, but I don’t believe he is the leader Arsenal require in the middle of the pitch. The leader that Arsenal need before they will win another trophy.

So options… Scott Parker? If West Ham go down, you have to assume he’d move on and stay in the top flight. He’s got the right attributes for Arsenal, being a ball player, he’s got our missing attributes in leadership, drive and experience, he can play holding providing backup to Song in that position or further forward and he’s the right age that after one or two seasons he’d be phased out and not block the careers of any promising youth players. The haircut goes against him though.

Nolan is very similar, though perhaps not quite as technical with his abilities. Also, I think he’s a bit of a shit, but then if he was playing for us and being a shit to other teams, I could probably cope with that.

If selling Fabregas allowed Arsenal to buy that leader, then I wouldn’t cry myself to sleep. If Arsenal sold Fabregas and didn’t replace him I might just cry forever.

Who would you pick? What would you do?

Kieran (@kieran_delaney)

  • Abdulhamid Ellawule

    That was a fantastic analysis. But then, Barcelona remain with their squard for a very long time for them to displace real madrid; same goes for Man u. First it was Viera and Thiery Henry. Remenber, Lumberg once said for Arsenal selling Henry meant it was not ready to win titles. I dont support the idea of selling our captains all the time. Puyol, Neville, Casillas, Gerrad, Terry and host of other clubs always keep their valuable players and captains. Best of luck to Arsenal FC.

  • bulime solomon

    I Wouldn’t let fabregas leave but if he insists on leaving definately we should go and buy two players to replace and they shuold be Gokhan innlar/Nvilla and also a left footed midfielder like Eden hazard to give room for sami Nasri to operate from the centre

  • Rufas

    Scott Parker wil replace him alongside wit Jack,Song n Ramsey!

  • Andrew

    Rafael van der vaart? is likely to be sold if totteham doesn´t qualify to champions league an he has the right attidude i think?
    (feel free to argue against)

  • pires

    scotty parker would be amazing but do you honestly see wenger going for anyone in that area this summer>? I dont. I think our manager is the biggest fool when it comes to the signings and I think as long as he stays in charge we wont a single thing

  • pires

    You just know the ussual drivel of crap he’s going to come out with at the end of the season – we were so close, we have so many players coming back – blah blha baaaaaa. Hope he fooks off with the mercenary clang

  • jhunt

    we have to he honest with ourselves and realise that sunday was great but we all know these boys cannot do it week in week out.there are certain players that are not just not good enough. squillachi is a championship player at best.he is just not good enough. djourou has improved but is too slow.clichy is error prone and is not the player he was .its best to get as much as we can for him and promote gibbs.sagna if only he could cross a ball.midfield we are ok. any idiots who suggest cesc should go are crazy.he will stay 100%. up front all ok except walcott has to learn to look up and use his brain a bit more.arshavin. thanks lot but offski.the others well where do we start. the must go brigade will be denilson eboue vela rosicky alumunia. the possibles will be diaby bendtner arshavin and clichy.we all know what we need .a strong defender and midfielder. and a goalscorer.all of the summer mbuys must be class one not cheapos not possible might be great one dayers.arsenal spend some money. you are nearly there but you have to compete not just get a money making CL spot each year . the fans have rumbled you and will not put up with it anymore.saturday’s win although great has papered over the cracks.if arsene keeps mentioning the spirit and the maturity once more than ill choke him really

  • Kieran

    @ Andrew:
    Personally I think Arsenal need a box to box power midfielder like Vieira used to be for us, perhaps like those players I mentioned who would sit back a little bit. I think Van Der Vart is too much of an attacking midfielder – we already have Nasri, Arshavin, Walcott, Vela etc. As a direct replacement for Cesc in the middle I don’t think RVDV would work.

    @ pires:
    I think it really depends on whether we sell Cesc or not. But the club have made it clear the intention is to strengthen, Wenger has made that clear himself as well. It would be largely unthinkable that not only would he fail to do that but also let players leave.

  • Kieran

    @ jhunt:
    Squillaci is 4th choice centre back. Name me a single 4th choice centre back who is better in the premier league.

    You want to promote Gibbs, a player who can only play 1 game in 4 due to injury?

  • pires

    not to mention the rise in ticket prices – which is a absolute con; An absolutely dreadful decision and at a time when people are struggling to pay for things that actually matter. Arsenals profits seem decent enough, do they really need to fleece that little bit more out of their loyal supporters when they are already absolutely milking it with domestic and, particularly, foreign TV deals?

    Historically Arsenal are a club that most football fans respect, but currently they are almost leading the way in the shiny, PL, corporate shit side of the game which is spoiling the sport for so many people. Already about the highest prices in the league despite hardly investing in playing staff and thus failing to win major trophies, but no, stick the prices up again because whilst some actual Gooners will now, having done their best to keep paying through the nose every season, have to finally give up their season tickets, who cares, theres a tourist/ rich middle class prick just waiting to take his seat

    This is why people nowadays are so quick to criticise managers- you dont just turn up and pay a small amount on the gate to get into the North Bank, you pay an utter fucking fortune and when you are paying that much, you start to expect some sort of a return- the manager is making a fucking fortune, the players are making a fortune, the agents are making a fortune, the directors are making a fortune, all paid for by the fans

    Football supporters really need to stand up and start to do something about this- give up season tickets, stop buying merchandise, tell the corporate world to fuck off out of our sport. Clubs act as if their fans owe them something, its about time they got a strong message that we wont allow them to keep taking the absolute piss out of us.

    Tell some poor Gooner who is trying to keep up mortgage payments on his house whilst paying to bring up two young kids to spend an extra £60 or whatever a season, then (in 09/10, its probably risen by now), pay £3,660,199 to agents. Fuck off.

  • pires

    I think the decent players are on their way out as there sick of the failure. fabregas and nasri will be leaving, and whats wengers solution, seedorf? haha is this actually a joke? I dont think there will be a season as easy as this to win, it was there for the taking and we blew it as usual and handed it to united. Next season, city and tottenham are only going to get stronger, aswell as chelsea and you will not have a cat in hells chance of winning the leauge.

  • pires

    And the worst thing about the raising of ticket prices is the extra money wont be used to strenghen the sqaud. even prior to the increase. tickets to the emirates are the highest admission fee in world football and of course they just got even higher. yet our transfer outlay is always in the negative. in other words we make money selling players. always spending less than make in sales. after selling adebayor and toure for 41m our outlay was only 10m on vermaelen. last year was diffrent we acutally spent more than we sold but not by much. eduardo went for 7m and squillaci and koscielny came in for a combined fee of 15m. we got chamakh for free. this year cesc is likely to leave and im guessing we get maybe 40m for him. but are we going to spend more than 40m on players? no were not. the board cannot justify these ticket prices whilst they dont spend money on players. its an insult made worse by the fact we dont even win. we dont win, we dont try to win by buying good players, yet arsenal think there in a positon to change the highest ticket prices in the world? i actually detest what we have become. i dont like wenger as a person. i think his arrogant stubborn and selfish. ive never rated hill-wood and half the sqaud are useless. who in gods name think we are a well run club?

  • pires

    watching barcelona last night made me think just how lazy our team are off the ball. when a barca player had the ball the team would make sure that there was 2 or 3 or 4 options next to him to pass the ball to and that makes their possesion play so effective and when they lost the ball strikers and midfielders sprinted back to helf put a tackle in and press from behind the ball. arsenal would be twice the side if we had a work ethic like this. the invincibles had a work ethic like that. IMO the invincibles were a lot better example of wengers ‘pure football’ but he wont admit that.

  • killer

    You can see already on other forums and hear the lost sheep flocking back to their shepard Wenger.

    2-3 more wins in more meaningless games will do it, and the faith in all things board, club and manager will be restored.

    The rumblings of AKBs with their I told you so’s are simmering under the surface until we get the next few wins. Nothing will change in the summer, we now know that for sure, except an increase in prices.

    The propaganda machine is back in full swing:

    More rubbish from a player criticising the manager months ago. Great prospect, but the usual he cannot be criticised.

    1 win against top half opposition in nearly 3 months. I’d like to see the spin on a winning streak.

  • pires

    I suggest you read this article

    you will realise then

  • pires


  • Kodjo

    I think is a risky piece of business to sell Cesc at this time…esp when he is approaching his peak. As Kieran said it will probably set us 5 years back. Remember it would take the so-called replacement player a season or two to settle down esp if that player does not play in England. I think selling Cesc is too much of a gamble. Except if 50 million + is on the table.

    The next question is who would come in??? Cant think of any player who is close to Cesc in terms of technique and valuable premiership exp.

    Hazard??? good on the wings but not close to Cesc class

    Van der Vart?? useful but not the type of midfielder we need. Cesc is miles ahead of him anyways

    If we are looking for a rough and tumble midfielder then i suggest Felaini from everton…has been off the boil recently due to injuries but i must say he was superb in his first and second seasons. Has the added advantage of height, power and determination. I’d pick him over Scott Parker. Felaini & Song in midfield would be a superb platform for the team.

  • pires

    Van der vart wouldnt come to us and wenger wouldnt choose him

  • Arsefan101

    No way hose can Fabregas leave.
    He is our main man!

  • terrencetg

    well the club as finally made public the ticket price hike by 6 and a half%. wenger is already saying this team is only averaging 23yrs and we need to keep faith,arsene you have wasted revenue made available by us fans in agreeing contracts with players that s/be cleared out,and everything points to deja vu next season.why dont you level with us fans and tell us you are going to invest in quality at cb,at defmidf,a wide midf and a quality striker.or not the man u result proves nothing its a one off and when they attacked late in the game we looked shaky. i object to paying another £2oo for my ticket,we should create money by shipping out the obvious trash we have i wont name them yet again as they are obvious to fans but not aw. im a pensioner now and my income as not got up in fact the winter allowance has been reduced but its alright for aw to pay ridiculous wages for so many players. why dont the club come clean and tell us what tfrs are likely before we have to reinvest. supporters sometimes are kidded by songs good,djourou is ok then we have youngsters coming through its only becos we compare the players we have but look at cb manu have ferd and vidic,i could go on. im sorry aw and gavadis this policy aint working and the quality of football this season aint good enough like the results we get slowly to the 18yd box and dont have a clue.ive news for vp next season wont be any different as the past 6 with aw in charge.

  • zohaib

    I just read an article where the West Ham chairman basically said he would have to sell his stars if they get relegated. This possibly means Scott Parker, Mathew Upson, Robert Green and Carlton Cole. Now I’m one who feels Scott Parker would be a great addition to our team. It would add some quality depth to our squad and we wouldn’t have to rely on the injury-plauged Diaby or the average Denilson or the out of form Rosicky. If Cesc leaves, this move makes all the more sense. But I’m all up for having Cesc stay AS WELL AS getting Scott Parker in.
    Kieran mentioned that only Wilshere has really shown the grit and desire throughout this season to try and win dirty when needed, and I couldn’t agree more. Which is why we need another player like that and Parker fits the bill properly !
    We can play him as a Defensive Midfielder when Song’s injured or needs a rest or as a Central Midfielder, who can score goals. He’s a proper work-horse. Similar to Flamini. I don’t see how this would be a bad deal.
    Moving on, Mathew Upson could make a good addition to our back four. He’s been talked about quite a bit over the last couple of seasons. I’m not sure if he’s still got the ability but if he does, and being English i’m sure he’s got more of that grit that we need, I think he might be a great addition to our defence. I think the consensus is that we need another good defender since Vermaelen missed almost the whole season and we can’t have another season like that; It would add some needed depth to the defence.
    I see a place for Robert Green in our squad but he’s been very inconsistent over the recent past, as I remember it. Please correct me if I’m wrong. If he’s past it, then we should look past him.
    I don’t think we’re going to go for Carlton Cole; having just bought Chamakh. But he’s English, and somehow I’m not too impressed with Chamakh yet; maybe because of the high standards set by Thierry Henry 😛 ….
    P.S. – somebody start a transfer related article please !