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Fabregas, Ramsey, and Wilshere: Collectively the Past, Present, and Future for Arsenal FC
In the first half of the FC Cologne game, we got a glimpse into the future of Arsenal as Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere took center stage and orchestrated a beautiful flowing attack for 45 minutes.
Many fans have been concerned over the purported departures of both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri this summer, feeling that Arsenal's midfield will take a severe blow if both players leave.
Indeed, the Fabregas saga has gone on so long, that some fans would just as well take the transfer papers to his doorstep themselves.
But most would agree that the loss of Samir Nasri would be huge. The midfielder showed that he could run the midfield is his own fashion in the absence of Fabregas in the first couple months of last season as the Spanish playmaker recovered from injury and has resented being shunted out wide as a winger.
His raw dribbling and finishing talents allow him to work well with other members of the Arsenal front line (eg. his beautiful one-two with Arshavin against Manchester City last season), as well as score ridiculous individual goals out of nowhere (eg. his goal on FC Porto or his brace against Fulham).
Still, even if the worst were to happen, Arsenal fans can take heart after seeing the preseason performances of the Welsh and English duo working together in midfield.
Both players have fantastic ball control and rarely give the ball away easily in midfield. This allows them to hold on until the perfect moment and then unleash a devastating cross, chip, or pass that cuts open opposing defenses and threatens the goal.
Especially with the addition of Gervinho, Arsenal's game with these two in midfield becomes increasingly fluid and beautiful, something all fans of football love to watch.
However, that is not to say they don't have flaws. The two are still very young and as such do not have the experience to keep up a consistent vein of form throughout an entire season.
Wilshere, for instance, could be seen to have tired out a bit by the end of last season (indeed, both players are key members of their national squads in addition to Arsenal, with Ramsey being promoted to Welsh captain, and Wilshere carrying the weight of a nation on his shoulders).
Both players also have a ways to go in terms of finishing their own chances, and they may falter as well against some more experienced and solid defenses, such as Manchester United or Chelsea.
But their partnership seems to be the way of the future for Arsenal, a new chapter in the history of Wenger's tenure. The two will most likely feature in many games together in the upcoming season, as a gradual "changing of the guard" eventually sees them take the reigns of North London's future.
How and when this change will happen (and how the two will fit into the lineup this summer) is a secret only Wenger knows.