Santi Cazorla a better player than Cesc Fabregas?
Takes a Yank to ask a naive question.

Cesc Fabregas is my favorite player of all time, by a long way.  And having watched Santi Cazorla land in the English Premier League as instantly its best player,* watching Fab struggle for playing time in the Spanish League, I wonder if Barcelona knows something we don't.  Is Cesc overrated?

Nobody in the world has Fabregas' eye for a through ball.  At Arsenal he was an assist machine and had 15 goals his last healthy season there.  But he's also got negatives that have been glossed over, especially by me.  He doesn't help much when the other side has the ball, his offensive energy other than passing is somewhat limited, and there was a tendency for his Arsenal teammates to sort of wait for Cesc to create a key pass.  He is certainly not a physical player by any stretch of the imagination, and Arsenal has not been exactly celebrated for its ability to slog it out with physical teams in the cold months.  Has the sheer beauty of his play hypnotized fans into not realizing that --- Cesc fails to make the other 10 players as good as Santi Cazorla makes them?

On the other hand, Cazorla has 80%, 90% of Fabregas' touch for a key pass - one leading to a dangerous shooting opportunity - and Cazorla does simply everything else better.  For example, you can compare their 2011-12 La Liga defensive stats here:  Cazorla had 50% more tackles than Fab, and 3 times as many interceptions.  Cazorla is the current Spanish mid prototype:  technically flawless, creative on the ball ... and totally unselfish without it.  

I'll take Cazorla on defense, I'll take his crosses and long balls, I'll take him for beating a defender off the dribble, and I'll take his set pieces.  The only place Cesc has him is on the through ball.  And Santi Cazorla can weight a through ball, too. 


Everybody has noticed that Arsenal no longer allows 1-3 goals a game.  :- )  We wonder if everybody has noticed that (1) their shots allowed total is hilariously low while(2) their fouls committed total is also very low.  They're picking the ball off the enemy as clean as a whistle.  Thank you, Abou Diaby.  Defense the way it was meant to be.  They don't run around the field mauling people:  they hustle to the right positions and then win 50-50's.  Arsenal has always been a joy to root; now they're a different kind of joy.  It's a Swiss watch rather than a jet ski.


It's stating the obvious to say that Fabregas is competing for playing time with three or four of the world's ten best players.  But Barcelona fields 11 players a match, not three or four.  If they wanted to put Fabregas on the pitch, they would put him there.  Is it possible that they are concerned about overall team coherency with Cesc?  

In the NBA, there are a lot of high scorers who never seem to be in the Finals.  It's one thing to dazzle when you take the court.  It's another thing for your team to win.  Nobody ever asked the question, was the trophy drought --- > Fabregas' trophy drought?

Arsene Wenger is swooning over his club's "positive energy."  What is he going to say, "I'd rather my players imitate Cazorla than Cesc"?  


You might ask, if Cazorla is the better player, and therefore one of the 10-20 best players on the planet, how could he sell for only 15 million pounds?  Fabregas sold for well over 30 and that was only because he hamstrung the Gunners by forcing them to deal with one team.

My own answer:  many times, soccer SYSTEMS confuse us as to a player's inherent level of ability.  Cazorla hasn't been playing with Arsenal-level teammates.  Neither has Lukas Podolski, who "suddenly" emerges as one of the Prem's impact strikers.  Well, yeah.  Soccer's a team sport.


You might kick this question down the pitch by asking, was even Robin Van Persie's pinball-machine goals total to any extent reflective of the system around him?  He's a great player, of course, but might not any number of underrated strikers blossom if made the feature scorer at Emirates Stadium?

One thing's for sure.  In that 7-year trophy drought, there has been a lot of showy offense, a lot of standing around waiting for Fab and RVP (or Adebayor) to get it done.  Now there are ten soccer players flying around the field in imitation of one Santiago Cazorla.

I'd like Cesc back.  Put him between Santi and Mikel Arteta.  Now then we're talking the Wayne Gretzky Oilers.


Seattle Gooner



I like what Cazorla brings to the Gunners this year. He brings a tenacity at the offensive end, attacking with his passes, attacking with his shot (both left and right footed) and to use a hockey term is a very good fore checker. Arsenal has done very well replacing RVP and Cesc with Cazorla and Podolski. Saw where Fabergas has had a couple real strong games for Barcelona recently. Love the soccer talk Doc.

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