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April Player of the Month

Ordinarily, in a month as trying as this April has been, choosing a Player of the Month is an onerous task. However, despite the stuttering conclusion to our title bid in a month which has seen us garner a solitary win, I find the choice quite a straightforward one. There are really only two candidates- possibly three if I acknowledge that Bacary Sagna has maintained his freakish consistency. Though he has yet to win a Player of the Month award this year, he might find the ultimate accolade of Player of the Season should soften that doubtless devastating blow to his sense of self worth. But in a month where most have toiled and struggled and looked anxious, heavy legged and weary of mind, Arsenal`s two leading lights have stood apart.

Robin van Persie is on a run of 20 goals in 21 games for club and country since New Year`s Day. On Sunday he broke a Premiership record by scoring in a seventh consecutive domestic away fixture. He has 19 goals and 7 assists in 29 appearances this season. In April, he found the net 4 times in 5 games, in the one game in which he didn`t score, Arsenal didn`t score. It`s pretty impossible to overstate his importance to us and well worth considering just where he ranks in the pantheon of world strikers. Van Persie does not need many chances to score a goal and he doesn`t need much of an angle to try a shot. In a month where our build up play has looked a little laboured, van Persie`s ruthlessness is one of the main reasons we`ve been in the title picture for as long as we have been. For me, he`s one of the few players whose confidence has looked unaffected in the last two months. But April`s accolade doesn`t go to the vice captain, but his superior ranking officer.

Football supporters have become so precious and sensitive nowadays that when a player hurts our ickle feelings by considering leaving, we adopt the infant attitude of saying, "Fine, didn`t like you anyway!" As such I have seen questions raised about Fabregas` quality and leadership this last month. I find it to be palpable nonsense. If Fabregas toils in either area (which he absolutely, positively does not) it`s because he shoulders the burden of being our only creative force. The only player that has the ability to unpick ten man defences, be it via a defence splitting pass or marauding run. It`s because he`s one of the only true leaders we have. People make the mistake of thinking leadership amounts to a pumping of the fists and a grimace. Not always, captains also lead by example. When the chips are down or we`re trailing a game, nobody runs further, nobody tries harder. In fact, I think there is an issue with other players rather sitting back and expecting him to do it on his lonesome, when really they should be following his example.

Fabregas has provided an assist for a team mate for every 171.6 minutes played this season. Far and away the most productive rate in the Premiership. I think one of the main issues with the team at the moment is that nobody in the Arsenal side comes close to that rate of creation. The ideas and inspiration department is his and his alone. I mentioned earlier that the only game in which van Persie didn`t score this month was the only game in which Arsenal didn`t. There is a further slab of evidence in that game too; it was the only game this month Cesc Fabregas did not start. Against Blackpool I lost count of the amount of times he split Blackpool`s- admittedly poor- defence in half by playing lofted balls over the shoulder of the Tangerines centre halves. He saw a weakness and hit it time and time and time again. It was like watching Rafael Nadal practising his serve.

Against Liverpool Cesc was far from his best. In fact, it was one of his poorer games this season. Yet how did the injury time penalty that should have won us the game come about? Fabregas driving into the area and avoiding tackles in the tightest spaces. That`s the point with Fabregas, his consistency is freakish. But even on the very rare occasions his performance isn`t up to scratch, he still gives you a match changing contribution. Even I sometimes think I have come away from a game having seen Cesc play below his lofty standards. But when I comb through the highlights package and scribble my notes for my match reports, his name appears on the page at every attack. I would venture that this month, I`ve probably written his name more times than I`ve written my own. Two more assists against Spurs had the ink from my pen re-etching that oft jotted name.

Similarly against Bolton, when Arsenal looked one paced in the face of a packed defence, it was he who took shots from range- both of which were less than an inch away from scoring. He set up van Persie`s equaliser. Once the Dutchman`s shot had hit the net, he ran to the net, scooped the ball out and waved his team mates back to the halfway line. When the game was drifting away in the latter stages, he was making the lung bursting runs forward into the box, taking defenders on, looking for the defence splitting passes. In my time watching Arsenal, I simply don`t recall a player that was so important to an Arsenal side as Cesc Fabregas is now. He marries his quality with a desire unsurpassed by any other player. The phrase "winning mentality" is etched into the Arsenal lexicon at the moment, if such a thing exists, then Fabregas has it in spades. In a month when the team have looked jaded and anxious, Fabregas has still produced. He simply always does.LD.


August- Tomas Rosicky
September: Jack Wilshere
October- Samir Nasri
November- Marouane Chamakh
December- Samir Nasri
TYPE LINK TEXT HERE
January- Cesc Fabregas
February- Robin van Persie
March- Jack Wilshere

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday April 26 2011

Time: 4:11PM

Your Comments

Poor choice. Fabregas has been pretty average since his injury. To be honest I dont think of any Arsenal player who can claim to have been in good form.. except perhaps the defenders who have been ok.
Sajit
Is there noone from the reserves we can hand it to?
nikolaijns
Considering Cesc's job is, largely, to create goals, the fact that he's directly assisted 50% of our goals this month- having not played 20% of our games, I'd say that's better than average. Average for him perhaps, but still in no way average.
Little Dutch
if you want a glimpse of his importance, look at how we play without him. We look about as threatening as a fork does to a bowl of soup.
Little Dutch
Liked the write up about Fab. Fabregas is an outstanding player and as you said he's a vital VITAL player. But LD, my only criticism for Fabregas is that when the opposition is performing well against us or having a go at us, Fabregas goes missing. Also in games that we are doing very well in the first half, Cesc would have been the one pulling the strings, but sometimes when the opposition turns it around in the second half Cesc doesn't seem to stand up to the Challenge then. It just seems to me like when the going gets tough he doesn't always get going. Pls don't mistake me here. I love Fabregas and I'm sure he's the best player at Arsenal, but I can't seem to overlook this weakness. Your views LD?
gunner_vin
Totally disagree, I think the issue of late is that he is the only one that gets going. I can't put a stat on it, but I'd bet money he covered more ground than anyone in the second half against Bolton. The players seem to look to him to do everything and, it seems, so do the fans. He makes a bloody good fist of it too, but he could use some help at times.
Little Dutch
Cesc was outstanding in the games against Blackpool and Spurs and was possibly our best player against Bolton too so I think it's well deserved.
bowiecokemirror
Difficult to be picking a "player of the month", after our capitulation in the same period, but I agree with the choice of Fabregas. Robin van Persie will run him very close, though.
Naijagunner
Diaby might have been in with a shout if he hadn't got himself injured again but Cesc is a good pick if RvP doesn't quite make it. I'd agree that he needs more creative back up which Nasri provides to an extent. Wilshere's energy issn't quite matched by his vision but he'll get there the more experience he gains. Other than Rosicky we don't have anyone else in the squad that can provide the level of creative support Cesc could use.
Amos.
Of course, I forgto to mention Diaby. April has been a microcosm of his Arsenal career, three brilliant games than he breaks down injured.
Little Dutch
My only problem is that Cesc or VP appear as the 'by default' choices which means that the rest of the squad aren't challenging themselves enough. You can't expect all our threats to come from the Cesc-VP axis otherwise we become predictable. The contribution from other players has been poor and I am very disappointed in Arshavin especially as I had huge hopes of him being another source of great danger ala Pires. He has the talent. I know we didnt lose the league in one game but i looked at that 4-4 result at NUFC as the start of our troubles; for me the seeds of doubt were planted there.
Gael-Force
I think you're quite right Gael Force and Wenger's comments about the huge burden placed on Cesc this season, I think, bear out part of what I was saying in this article. I think that was a veiled criticism of others who are happy to stand back and watch Cesc try to claw games back single handedly when things go awry.
Little Dutch
He's different level, almost too big for our football club. Genuinely think he may go this summer for the first time.
shewore
"Almost too big for our football club"....how true considering how starved we have been to see great players at this football club over the years.
Deltaforce
Huh? Who said we'd been starved?
Shewore
If we have not been starved of great players in your own words, what was the meaning or purpose of your second last comment?
Deltaforce
What the hell are you on about? You're the one that's started talking about us being starved.
shewore
 

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