And so it ends.
Our worst fears come true and this morning we've all been treated to the sight of Cesc Fabregas kissing the badge. The Barcelona badge. Regular readers will know that I thought Cesc was a gonner last summer- his body language appeared to indicate that his heart was no longer in it. Last summer though, he was persuaded by his manager to give it one last go. Or, if you prefer, told that he had a rather lucrative contract to honour. I think it's fair to say that, like Thierry Henry before him, the one last push didn't quite work out for him. Or us. And so there is, for me anyway, an inevitability to his departure.
Still he goes with my thanks for his efforts across seven largely brilliant years. I think, as has been said elsewhere, that nobody has come out of this saga looking particularly great. Not the hustlers of Barcelona, not our former captain who was content to let his new teammates do his talking for him and certainly not Arsenal who have allowed themselves to be hustled. At the end of the day, had Arsène Wenger created a team around our former captain that was worthy of his talents, I don't think I'd be sitting here writing this today. This may sound like a slightly different way of saying what I said on Friday, but I think it's important to remember (and I'm looking at those embarrassing themselves on Twitter today) that Fabregas would have been happy to stay at Arsenal if we actually looked like winning anything at some point before he retired.
Instead, the boy who became a man, The Man, in north London leaves us only with memories of his individual brilliance. That's it. No trophies, except for the last, lucky, roar of the Invincibles in 2005; only a feeling of what might have been had Arsène Wenger created a proper stage for his midfield maestro. I hope that, when Arsène Wenger goes to bed at night he realises that it is his inaction that has led Cesc, and the support, to where we are this afternoon. I'm not particularly interested in relaying Cesc's quotes from his press conference today, purely because they don't matter to me. I understand why he's gone and I wish him well, but as he is no longer an Arsenal player, I won't be dwelling on him any longer.
Well, not too much anyway.
Of course, in amongst all this, there has been an actual, proper, football match since we last spoke. Well, I say proper. I'm not sure how you can have a "proper" football match when one player is intent on refereeing as well as playing. Of course, I'm talking about Joey Barton. Of course, Alex Song Song should have gone for a stupid stamp on Barton's ankle. I'm with Kevin Whitcher on that one, actually, as well as the inevitable ban from the FA, Song should be fined two weeks wages for such stupidity. But that stamp doesn't excuse Joey Barton's reaction to Gervinho and the perceived dive that, actually, should have been a penalty.
Gervinho is fouled in the area by Tiote, dragged to his feet by Joey Barton and yet he is the one punished by a red card? He must have felt like Patrick Vieira did after his two red cards in successive matches 11 years ago. Of course, it goes without saying that once he had raised his hands, he was always going to be sent for an early bath- thereby completing an unwated debut double for Arsenal after Laurent Koscielny's red card at Anfield last season. But it beggars belief that Barton, the agent provocateur in Abou Diaby's sending off last season, again got away scot free. He raised his hands too and then, having been apparently incensed by a dive, decided to react to it by, er.... taking a dive? Madness.
The net result there was that a game that Arsenal were always in control of, without ever actually looking like scoring, slipped away from them and a point became a decent result in the end. It's the new season, same as the old one. The frustration of watching Arsenal get into promising positions and then squander them repeatedly by looking for an extra pass, the pefect angle or the right foot... well, it's like football's never been away, isn't it? Gervinho, red card aside, appears to have had all his pre season dynamism coached out of him as he was the main culprit in all of this. I don't know, these are just random thoughts at the moment and I know Wilshere's still to return and we've still got Walcott to come back to full throttle, but you can't not be concerned by what took place on Saturday evening. On the plus side, Koscielny, Vermaelen and Szczesny formed an impressive triumvirate at the back and, er, er.... well, I can't think of anything else right now.
I've accepted the offer of a spare ticket to the Manchester United match today. That'll be fun.
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