By Matt Fortune
Cesc Fabregas was the most creative player in the Premier League last season.
The Spaniard has been lauded worldwide for the way he orchestrates Arsenal’s attacking raids, and he even translated that form to the national team this summer. Fabregas’ statistics show exactly why he is held in such high regard.
Cesc topped the list of goal-makers with 19 — six clear of third in the list, Wayne Rooney — and, on average, created more chances per game than any other player. Steven Gerrard was second with 3.06 compared to Fabregas’ 3.50 per game.
Fabregas made the developmental leap from boy to man two seasons ago and his growth shows little sign of relenting. For evidence of his increased maturity, just look at his passing stats. The 21-year-old attempted 2,526 passes, the most in the League. Understand that to make the pass he has to retrieve, or in his case demand, the ball in the first place.
One criticism previously levelled at Fabregas was his lack of accuracy in front of goal. That notion was blown out of the water in 2007/08 as Cesc plundered 13 goals in all competitions and developed a real appetite for shooting. His 106 Premier League efforts on goal — broken down to 24 blocked shots, 45 on target and 37 off target — dwarfs the efforts of Michael Carrick, 17, and Frank Lampard, 56.
With Mathieu Flamini anchoring midfield behind him, Fabregas had the freedom to go forward and his instinct was to do just that. Not that he shirked any of his defensive responsibilities. In fact, Carrick, an oft-assumed deeper sitting central-midfielder, made 16 fewer tackles than his Arsenal counterpart. Meanwhile Gareth Barry, another player whose predominant duty is ‘holding’ made slightly more tackles than Fabregas but had a success rate of 54.2 per cent; the Arsenal No 4 won 68.3 per cent of his.
And yet there are more strings to Fabregas’ bow — he can cross too. His tally of 16 completed crosses betters that of Lampard and Carrick by 11 and 13 respectively.
At his current rate of growth, Fabregas’ numbers will inevitably make for even better reading this time next year.
|Shots on target||45|
|Shots off target||37|
*statistics relate to the Premier League season 2007/089 Jul 2008