Thursday, November 24, 2011

24 November 2008 - An Exercise In Delaying The Inevitable

On 24 November 2008, Arsenal made Cesc Fabregas their captain, replacing defender William Gallas.

Gallas, a center back who joined the Gunners from Chelsea in September 2006, had held the captaincy for just over a year, but it was a year shadowed by controversy. In particular, he drew fierce criticism from supporters and commentators alike for losing his composure in a 2-2 draw at Birmingham City in February 2008--the same match in which teammate Eduardo suffered a broken leg.

The situation grew dimmer for the French international in the 2008-09 season as, fourteen games into the season, Arsenal had lost three of their last four to drop into 5th place. After the third loss, a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City, manager Arsène Wenger announced that the 21-year old Fabregas would permanently replace Gallas.

The switch sparked rumors that Wenger had given the armband to Fabregas in attempt to keep him out of the clutches of Barcelona, who were engaged in a highly public pursuit of the Spanish international midfielder (who began his career in the Barça youth academy). Whatever the reason, it yielded immediate results as Arsenal beat Chelsea 1-2 in Fabregas' first match as captain.

Injuries limited Fabregas' time on the pitch, however, and Arsenal limped to a fourth-place finish in 2009 and a third-place finish in 2010. In the summer of 2011, Fabregas finally made the switch to his Barcelona for a transfer fee of £29 million plus incentives.

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