Is Arsenal Better Off Without Cesc Fabregas?

Here’s a statistic I had to look at twice and then verify before believing it: since star midfielder Cesc Fabregas went out with an injury last December, Arsenal hasn’t lost a match in the Premier League.

This is not to say they haven’t dropped points. In their last 12, Arsenal has won 6 and drawn 6, and at least one of draws (home to Sunderland) probably would have been a win had the Gooners at least looked interested. Still, compare that to Aston Villa’s form in their last 12 — 5 wins, 4 draws, and 3 losses. That’s a 5-point swing in Arsenal’s favor. More recent form — 12 points in 6 matches for Arsenal v. 4 points in 6 for Villa — would indicate that the Gooners have hit their stride at just the right time of the season.

They’ve done all this without Fabregas, too, which might be why the Times Online’s Matt Hughes suggested that the Spaniard’s days are numbered at Arsenal.

Obviously, there are other factors involved in the Gooners’ recent resurgence. The return of Eduardo da Silva has been a big boost for the big club, and Andrei Arshavin is starting to make his presence felt in the Premier League. Still, the emergence of Denilson in central midfield and the greater role of wingers like Arshavin and Samir Nasri in Arsenal’s lineup might have Arsene Wenger pondering if he still needs Fabregas to carry the load in the middle. That alleged spitting incident against Hull didn’t help matters, either.

Plus, Fabregas seems to have plenty of potential suitors in his home country of Spain. Depending on what day of the week it is, Real Madrid and Barcelona are reportedly interested in bringing in Fabregas during the summer, and Arsenal can slap a £30 million price tag on him and get something fairly close to that. Combine that with the A.C. Milan’s reported interest in Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy, and Wenger could find himself with a huge transfer kitty this summer. The board would certainly pressure him to spend that money, too, because the back line needs strengthening, and Nicklas Bendtner and his pink boots aren’t the answer up front.

Fabregas is a great talent, and Arsenal would certainly be more feared with him in the lineup. However, given the current midfield players and the needs Arsenal has at other positions, it sure seems like the big club would have a better shot at winning trophies in the future by selling Fabregas rather than by keeping him. Whether or not he secures another top-four finish for Arsenal, Wenger faces some big questions about the future direction of his club this summer.

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