March Player of the Month
A bit of a thin selection this month, I am sure you will agree. It reminds me of a time when I was on holiday a few years ago, we decided to spend thirty euros on a bottom glass boat ride that promised, "swimming with dolphins and a BBQ lunch." Well there were no dolphins and we were given toasted cheese sandwiches that had long gone cold and stale, putrefyingly swimming in their own grease. In a month where Arsenal have won only one Premiership game and played well, well below their capabilities, it is enormously difficult to pick out a prince amongst the frogs. (Stop sniggering xenophobic Spurs fans!) Even the usual suspects appear to have lost their identities, they`ve forgotten that they`re supposed to be Keyser Soze and instead have morphed into plain old Kevin Spacey. The uber dependable Gallas has suffered indifferent form by his own astronomical standards, Gael Clichy looks like a man with too many miles on the clock, Emmanuel Adebayor`s hair has gone and so have the goals, Alex Hleb looks jaded and van Persie is still fine tuning.
Save for the thirty minute miracle at the Reebok and the demolition of A.C. Milan in their abode, pickings have been pretty slim. Bacary Sagna scored his first goal for the club in March and continues to be the epitome of consistency. But I`m going to opt for Cesc Fabregas. Many Gooners contend that Cesc has dropped a level since the dizzying highs of early season. But I would contest that; Fabregas set gargantuan standards as summer gave way to Autumn for sure, but I think because his unsustainable goal count has dried up, people interpret this as an horrific dip in form. But a glance at his ball retention stats and his 18 Premiership assists so far this season paint a picture of consistency. Fabregas is still the heartbeat of this team, when he gets the ball in his majestic possession, players instantly move in expectation, whether curling a ball over a high backline for Adebayor, or sliding a crafty through ball, Fabregas provides his colleagues with plentiful ammunition.
Of course the quite stunning masterclass from Cesc in the San Siro is the highlight and the main reason he gets the nod for March player of the month. What I really like about Cesc is his mentality; he really steps up for these games. Past virtuoso performances against United at Old Trafford last year, the Bernebeu and Juventus seem to confirm this. Faced with the task of manning Pirlo, Gattuso and Kaka, Fabregas steps up to the plate. As if to make a statement that, not only does he belong in this illustrious company, he can rule it. He pulled all the strings in Northern Italy that night, not disheartened by his early firecracker which smacked the crossbar, his coup de grace arrived five minutes from time. With the match still deadlocked, he took the ball, manoeuvred beyond Pirlo and Gattuso and arrowed the ball into the bottom corner. It was a comic book superhero moment, "damsel in distress? Leave it to me guv." His performance that night, together with fellow F-Trooper Flamini had the local press drooling in the same way the Milanese had conceded Henry`s brilliance four years earlier.
He has been at the heart of our better moments this month. His set piece delivery has led directly to goals from Toure, Sagna and Gallas. At the Reebok Stadium, with his limbs infused with lactic acid exacerbated by heavy rain, he sauntered forward in injury time to set up our crucial winner. Cesc put Adebayor through on goal in the opening seconds at Wigan with a gorgeous defence splitting pass and was again in the box in injury time to nearly deliver us a winner, were it not for the frame of Kirkland. His boundless energy saw him denied by Schwarzer with a similar opportunity in the dying minutes against Middlesbrough. When the chips are down or something special is required, Fabregas seldom fails to step up. His virtually constant brilliance causes us to ignore this at times, but when the team is a fraction below their usual level, his constancy is illuminated. Forza Cesc, our shining Spanish prince.LD.