So the spectacle that was Barcelona versus Arsenal ended in predictable fashion. For all the protestations of Wenger and others it was apparent to anybody who watched the game that the Van Persie sending off, however ridiculous it was, would have made no difference to the outcome. Barcelona are by far and away the most outstanding football team of a generation and will go on to win the Champions League barring an awful injury crisis or chronic loss of form.
That having been said, the Van Persie sending off acted as an absolute godsend for one particular member amongst the Arsenal ranks. The sending off took all the focus away from the main culprit of the night. That culprit? Cesc Fabregas.
If I was an Arsenal fan I would have been filled with rage at the conduct of Cesc Fabregas on Tuesday night for what I witnessed was one of the most selfish performances ever produced by an individual footballer.
From the moment Fabregas embraced each of the Barcelona players in the tunnel as though they were long lost brothers, it was apparent that this was going to be the Cesc Fabregas show. This was going to be all about Cesc proving his love for the Catalans and proving his worth to Pep Guardiola and the Barcelona hierarchy.
At one point after a robust challenge on Jack Wilshere, Fabregas decided to take on the role of peacemaker as others around him, Van Persie included, made moves to protect their colleague. Fabregas seemed overly focused on making sure he didn’t upset anyone at the Nou Camp through fear of ruining his “dream move.”
I would have expected my captain to be the first one arguing with the Barcelona players, ensuring the Spaniards were not allowed to take liberties with Wilshere, a player still in his formative years. After all the role of a captain is to lead and protect his team isn’t it?
That Fabregas would see himself as peacemaker is in itself out of kilter with his previous conduct. The man is no stranger to controversy, as his alleged role in “pizzagate” at Old Trafford many years ago and more recent bust ups with Mark Hughes and Brian Horton would seem to prove. Had Fabregas been playing on any other stage, against any other team, I would put good money on him being the first player to stick up for his young team mate.
The final, and perhaps most criminal act of selfishness by Fabregas was of course his ill advised back heel which led to the first goal for Barcelona. Fabregas, undoubtedly a world class talent, does not make mistakes like that, unless his mind is elsewhere. In an attempt to fit in with the Barcelona way of playing, his back heel was an act of crass irresponsibility and massive indulgence that cost his team dearly.
His team mates had every right to be angry at Cesc Fabregas on Tuesday night. Arsene Wenger had every right to be angry at Cesc Fabregas on Tuesday night, and all you “Gooners” had every right to be angry with Cesc Fabregas on Tuesday night. After all, it doesn’t usually take you long to turn on your own players for poor performance does it? I wonder what the reaction would have been had it been Emmanuel Eboue giving the ball away with that back heel!
By John Hall-Galley – Manchester United fan