Fabregas gamble made for a great occasion
In a couple of short sentences, Cesc Fabregas summed up Wednesday night’s humdinger of a Champions League game pretty well perfectly, and made a persuasive case for a selection gamble that could make or break the Arsenal season.
Fabregas didn’t look fully fit in a first half that saw Barcelona’s technically impeccable team run rings around the Arsenal players. Messi, Xavi, Sergio, Pedro and the rest seemed to be playing a game of their own for the first 25 minutes or so, with Arsenal left scratching their heads at the intricate patterns being passed around them.
Perhaps it was the booking that would have ruled him out of the second leg anyway, but Fabregas seemed to redouble his efforts in the second half, in a heroic final effort that ended with him suffering a nasty injury, one that could end his season, in the very act of scoring the equalising penalty.
The gamble may end up costing Arsenal dearly. Barcelona remain strong favourites to reach the semi-finals, with two away goals, when the teams meet again at the Nou Camp on Tuesday and the loss of Fabregas makes a successful late dip for the title look even less likely.
But it was a gamble worth taking, wasn’t it? Whatever happens, Arsenal are guaranteed third place and a return to the Champions League next season, so why not give it everything in an attempt to prolong their participation this season?
“I don’t regret it,” Cesc said before hobbling away from the stadium on crutches. “You never know when games like this are going to come up again.”
PHOTO: Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas (R) reacts after fouling Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets during their Champions League quarter-finals first leg soccer match at Emirates stadium in London March 31, 2010. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh