IS CESC THE NEW ENEMY?
Very little has been thought about regarding Chelsea’s upcoming clash with Arsenal in the month of October other than Cesc Fabregas’ encounter against his former club, a topic which has even surpassed the footballing war between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.
A fresh-faced Fabregas joined Arsenal at the tender age of 16 in 2003, having seen his chances of first team football limited at Barcelona. The Spaniard made his debut in a Carling Cup clash versus Rotherham in 2003, before officially rubbing shoulders with the likes of Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva in the 2004/2005 season.
The Spanish international soon found himself with the captain’s armband 2008, but after 212 appearances for the first team, the fan favourite eventually caved in to the prospect of joining his boyhood club Barcelona, switching to the Catalan giants in 2011 for £29.5 million.
Fabregas never quite got the love that the likes of Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez received from the Barcelona faithful, the type of love Arsenal fans used to indulge him with, and found himself transfer listed by Barcelona at the beginning of the season.
Following the deal that saw Fabregas join Barcelona, Arsenal had a clause in place that would see Barcelona offer Fabregas to them first if there was to be any interest from other clubs in the Spaniard, which soon came from Manchester United and Chelsea.
With Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere already in their ranks, Arsene Wenger rejected the chance to bring Fabregas back to the Emirates even at a cheaper price than the £27 million requested, noting that Barcelona still hadn’t paid the full fee of his 2011 transfer.
The ex-Arsenal love flame then had the ‘marvellous’ idea of joining Chelsea, which sounds fair enough after Arsenal had rejected him, right? Oh, wait, we’re forgetting just how disliked the Blues are in North London, as an old quote from Fabregas himself explains, “If I ever wear a Chelsea shirt, you have the permission to kill me.”
Don’t invite them, Cesc! Is he now public enemy number one? Let’s review the other candidates.
5. Emmanuel Adebayor
Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor joined Arsenal in January 2006 from AS Monaco with a pretty measly goal scoring record, but by 2008 Wenger had succeeded in turning the lanky forward into a 30-goal-a-season forward.
Adebayor’s tally took a hit following Eduardo da Silva’s devastating leg break in 2008 and the 30-year-old soon turned his back on the Gunners in the summer of 2009 by joining oil-rich Manchester City for £24 million.
As if the perceived money-motivated move wasn’t bad enough, Adebayor took it in his stride, or many strides, to run to the opposite end of the pitch and celebrate a goal for Man City in a 4-2 win by sliding in front of travelling Arsenal fans. Adebayor then joined Arsenal’s bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur after a failed spell with the Citizens, although the striker’s high wages and proportionally low number of goals has slightly eased the hatred towards the ex-Arsenal man.
4. Samir Nasri
Joining the Gunners from Olympique Marseille in 2008, Nasri really became a hit with the Arsenal fans in the season of 2010/2011, scoring ten Premier League goals in 30 appearances. However, with one year left on his contract, Nasri used this opportunity to make the switch to Eastlands.
In what, again, seemed to be a money-motivated switch, Nasri has never been welcomed back to the Emirates again, often on the end of many abusive comments from the Arsenal faithful.
3. Ashley Cole
Brought through the ranks at Arsenal and an integral part of the Gunners’ title winning side of 2002 and ‘the Invincibles’ of 2004, Ashley Cole is the definition of a mercenary in the eyes of the North Londoners. So much so that he’s nicknamed ‘Cashley Cole’ in those parts.
Following the ‘Tapping-up’ scandal that saw Chelsea approach Cole and his agent, Pini Zahavi, without Arsenal’s permission, the English full-back managed to force a move to the Blues in exchange for William Gallas plus £5 million, heating up the rivalry between both clubs.
2. William Gallas
For the record, William Gallas was never liked by Arsenal fans when he captained the side in the heart of defence, so it already goes to show why the Frenchman ranks at number two. Gallas joined the Gunners in the summer of 2006 in exchange for Cole, having had various rows with Jose Mourinho, and was given the captaincy following the sale of Thierry Henry to Barcelona the season after for £16 million
However, Gallas’ sharp tongue and criticism of his teammates in the media often found himself in the bad books and his over-the top reaction to the 2-2 draw away to Birmingham City in 2008, the day Eduardo broke his leg and the game that ignited Arsenal’s downward spiral that season, saw reports emerge that he had reduced his compatriot Gael Clichy to tears, following the left back’s mistimed tackle which enabled Birmingham to equalise from the penalty spot.
Gallas’ grumbles and public meltdowns got so out of hand that Arsene Wenger was forced strip the Frenchman of his captaincy, whereas joining rivals Tottenham later on in his career was simply the icing on the cake.
1. Robin van Persie
Coming over to Arsenal from Feyenoord in 2004 as a troubled youngster, Robin van Persie also found himself more often than not off the field instead of on it, due to his injury problems in an Arsenal shirt.
As noted by many, most managers would have given up on the injury-plagued Van Persie, but Wenger kept his faith in the Dutchman, with that faith being repaid in the 2010/2011 & 2011/2012 season, in which Van Persie topped the goal scoring charts in the Premier League consecutively.
'Faith repaid' did you hear me say? Well, almost, because as he entered the final month of his contract, not only did the striker decide to leave Arsenal in a period they needed him most, but he also chose to join rivals Manchester United, publicly blemishing the club’s ambitions with his departing statement.
Celebrating his goal against his former club in their final meeting at Old Trafford, you’d struggle to find an Arsenal fan who doesn’t despise their ex-captain.