Arsenal FC: Top 5 Cesc Fabregas Performances

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2011

Arsenal FC: Top 5 Cesc Fabregas Performances

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    Cesc Fabregas' departure to FC Barcelona takes away the crown jewel of Arsene Wenger's highly controversial youth project.

    For better or worse, Fabregas has exemplified Wenger's vision for the team throughout the last six years. 

    His skill and technique have been the finest examples of what Wenger has tried to achieve with this particular Arsenal squad.

    The question marks concerning his abilities as a leader have represented the chief criticism levelled against Wenger's current crop of players.

    But despite the lack of trophies Arsenal fans have enjoyed the privilege of watching Cesc Fabregas develop from a promising 16-year-old into the finest creative midfielder in the game.

    On his Premier League debut away to Everton in August 2004, Fabregas immediately showed that he had that often indefinable something extra that meant he was destined to flourish.

    By the time Arsenal had moved to the Emirates Stadium in 2006, the character of the team had shifted away from the speed based approach designed to maximise the talents of Thierry Henry.

    In just two short years, the team had instead changed to a more cerebral, short passing style of play based around the play making guile of Fabregas.

    Fabregas became the heartbeat of the team.  Arsenal's stylish play and chances of success were entirely dependant on the performance of their Catalan skipper.

    As Arsenal fans bid one of Arsene Wenger's greatest ever success stories a fond farewell, here is a look at Fabregas's five best performances.

5. Away vs. Manchester United, September 2006

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    Cesc Fabregas emerged from the shadow of Thierry Henry to show that he was now the main man for Arsenal, with a superb display at the home of Manchester United.

    When Arsenal travelled to the daunting confines of Old Trafford in September 2006, many were predicted a big victory for Manchester United.

    Without the services of star striker Thierry Henry and having begun the season with two draws and a defeat, the Gunners were expected to be overwhelmed early on.

    Instead, Fabregas took the game to United in a truly colossal performance.  United couldn't get near to Fabregas on the day.

    The quick thinking schemer controlled the tempo of the game and was at the center of all of Arsenal's best play.

    Fabregas combined superbly with Tomas Rosicky to produce some neat and rapid interplay which United struggled to cope with.

    The young Spaniard was the architect for some of the finest free flowing football Arsenal have ever produced against United.

    Late in the game, Fabregas exerted his tremendous influence in decisive fashion.  Robbing the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo, Fabregas fashioned an opening and slid a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Emmanuel Adebayor.

    Adebayor stuck out a leg and prodded the ball under United reserve keeper Tomas Kuszczak.  Fabregas had inspired Arsenal to record one of Arsene Wenger's greatest victories in his rivalry with Sir Alex Ferguson.

4. Home vs. Blackburn Rovers, October 2009

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    Cesc Fabregas' demolition of Blackburn Rovers in October 2009, perfectly demonstrated his significance within Arsenal's tactical structure.

    Fabregas dominated the match with one goal and four assists.  All of his finest attributes were displayed throughout this game.

    His ability to create space for himself and his uncanny knack for exposing the gaps between defenders, enabled Fabregas to create chance after chance for his teammates.

    His sly movement off the ball allowed Fabregas to begin moves and then appear suddenly to apply the final crucial pass.

    So often Fabregas has made the decisive contribution in Arsenal's approach play.  His vision and awareness have converted neat passing into goal scoring chances on countless occasions.

    2009/10 was Fabregas' best statistical season for Arsenal, and this game showed just how effective he had become.

3. Home vs. Juventus, March 2006

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    Cesc Fabregas chose the return to Highbury of Patrick Vieira to announce himself as Arsenal's next great midfield general.

    Vieira arrived back in North London with his powerful Juventus side looking to knock Arsenal out of the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage.

    Juventus were expected to present a tough challenge.  Their rugged midfield appeared to have the edge over an Arsenal side that had already been out muscled several times during the 2005/06 season.

    But through a mixture of tenacity and craft, then 18-year-old Fabregas carried the fight to Vieira and Juventus.

    Fabregas was superb as the inventive fulcrum of a fully committed Arsenal team.  He was energetic, resourceful and incisive throughout the contest.

    Fabregas opened the scoring with a clever reverse shot that wrong footed Gianluigi Buffon.  In the second half, Fabregas bossed the game with his combination of determination and flair.

    His clever run into the right side of the box was picked out by Aleksander Hleb, and Fabregas quickly spotted Thierry Henry who doubled the score.

    Fabregas' game still showed some rough edges, but this performance also revealed the calibre of player he would eventually develop into.

2. Away vs. Stoke City, February 2010

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    If there is one performance that sums up what Cesc Fabregas was capable of as Arsenal captain, it would be this imperious display from early 2010.

    Fabregas drove Arsenal to their infamous 3-1 victory over their antithesis Stoke City.  Arsenal arrived at the Britannia Stadium to be greeted by a cauldron of scorn and derision.

    Stoke took an early lead after once again using their height and physicality to expose Arsenal.  It seemed as though another mauling at the hands of Stoke was a formality.

    But Fabregas simply would not be denied on this occasion.  He superbly marshaled Arsenal's attacking play and wrestled the momentum away from the Potters.

    Fabregas set up the equaliser by Nicklas Bendtner after a pinpoint cross.  In the second half, Fabregas went forward at every opportunity and exhorted his fellow midfielders to do the same.

    His sterling efforts helped hold the team together after Aaron Ramsey's terrible injury.  When Arsenal were awarded a penalty late on, Fabregas immediately took responsibility.

    The skipper confidently stepped forward and forced home the spot kick.  Moments later Fabregas was quickest to the ball after Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen parried away Tomas Rosicky's strong shot.

    Ever the provider, Fabregas quickly pulled the ball across to Thomas Vermaelen who scrambled home the decisive goal for Arsenal's only Premier League victory at their least favourite ground.

    Fabregas had delivered one of the most inspiring performances by an Arsenal player during Arsene Wenger's tenure.

1. Away vs. AC Milan, March 2008

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    Cesc Fabregas' greatest performance for Arsenal was his domination of Champions League veterans AC Milan.

    Arsenal travelled to the home of the European Cup holders and were willed to victory by their talented young play maker.

    Fabregas conducted the play in every area of the pitch.  He was solid and composed in front of the back four, tireless and efficient in the middle of the field and posed a constant threat in the attacking third.

    Arsenal fans had not been treated to a midfield performance as strong and complete as this since the days when Patrick Vieira was in his long striding prime.

    Fabregas' powerful low shot propelled Arsenal to the first victory by an English team at the San Siro.  This was the night Fabregas joined the ranks of the elite players of world football.

    His display was the perfect fusion of his natural talent along with his training and development under Arsene Wenger.

    Arsenal have failed to capture any trophies in the last six seasons.  But Cesc Fabregas has been the one world class player the fans could count on and be proud of.

    Arsenal supporters will soon get the measure of players such as Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, by how quickly and effectively they can fill the void left by Fabregas.

    The arduous transfer saga may have left behind some bad feeling.  But Cesc Fabregas will take his rightful place in club history as one of the most technically gifted midfielders to ever represent Arsenal.