It has been a long three-and-a-half months for Cesc Fabregas. At the Emirates back on December 21, one could sense the severity of the situation as worried murmurs echoed around the ground when the Spaniard limped off the pitch at half-time against Liverpool.
Arsenal’s newly-appointed captain was to face three to four months on the sidelines after a scan revealed he had damaged his knee ligaments in a 50-50 challenge with Xabi Alonso.
It was a long spell out of action for the 21-year-old, the lengthiest of his career. But instead of letting it get to him, he stayed typically positive: longer-term injuries happen – and he was lucky to have lasted that long unscathed.
But whilst his sizeable absence on the pitch was never going to go unnoticed, it seems that his recovery period has further fuelled the endlessly predictable speculation about a seemingly imminent move back to Spain. Despite the player coming out on a number of occasions and stressing that his immediate future is at the Emirates, there has been an endless stream of stories, mainly coming from his home country.
It may be partly due to the fact that he spent parts of his recovery in Spain, but Arsenal fans are sick of it. Two years ago it was Thierry Henry. Before that, Patrick Vieira. And all three were Arsenal’s captain at the time.
On the pitch, the Gunners have lacked Fabregas’ creative spark; that one killer pass; that single pinpoint cross. But the signing of Andrey Arshavin has proved an excellent investment. The 27-year-old has strolled into the Premier League, fitting well into the style of play at the Emirates.
It is clear now to the fans in north London that Arsenal now have two main stars: Arshavin and Fabregas.
And the prospect of the two of them playing together for the first time, in the same team, has got Gooners excited. Arsenal are in good form of late. They are unbeaten in the league since November, and have important cup ties coming up. The next few weeks will be decisive to their season.
So Fabregas’ return to action is a welcome relief for Arsenal fans. The boy from Barcelona is back playing for Arsenal in a crucial month. And fans will look at the back pages of the Sunday papers and will, for once, read about his performance, not about Barcelona’s perseverance.
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