Cesc Fabregas was untouchable in the first half of the current Premier League season, notching goals and assists effortlessly as Chelsea steamrolled opponents. However, his influence has waned considerably since the turn of the year, an all-too-familiar trend in the former Arsenal captain’s career.
Chelsea continued their march to the title, albeit in unconvincing fashion, with a 3-2 win away to Hull City on Sunday. Loic Remy’s late winner ensured Chelsea managed to leave the KC Stadium with maximum points, as Jose Mourinho’s squad edged closer to Premier League paradise.
Cesc Fabregas added his 16th assist of the season, somewhat quelling the flames of discontent that continue to quietly circle the Spaniard’s recent performances.
Criticism of a midfielder that has been directly involved in a total of eighteen goals already this season may seem bizarre, but a worrying trend in Fabregas’ career points to a predictable slump after the New Year.
In June 2013, FC Barcelona released a statement providing an insight into the rationale behind their decision to offload Fabregas. It was a scathing criticism of his influence during ‘squeaky-bum time’, but one that certainly holds substance.
“There has been a downward trend in his stats every season at the club.” said the statement. “Despite glowing starts to each campaign, Cesc’s contributions to the cause gradually decreased as each season drew to a close.”
“He only scored one, six and one goals in the last 24 games of each season. For some reason, he was never as good in the second half of a season as in the first.”
In the uber-analytical footballing world of today, surely there’s no way that we, the fickle footballing public, have failed to notice that Fabregas is merely a ‘Half-Season Harry’?
Surely we would have spotted Cesc going on Newcastle-esque self-imposed holidays before the end of each season?
These ‘experts’ at Barcelona must be wrong? Perhaps Cesc was merely outshone by stronger players, given the pedigree of FCB’s armoury?
Unfortunately not, Cesc has hoodwinked us all.
This graphic by Fox Sports underlines the Chelsea man’s propensity for hitting a downhill slump when the going gets tough.
If we delve deeper into Cesc’s past, and resurrect the ‘glory’ days at Arsenal that brought him to football’s top table, the stats are equally alarming.
Arsene Wenger’s side was built around the trequartista, but his susceptibility to average displays in the latter half of the season would result in Arsenal winning just one major trophy in his seven years at the club; the 2005 FA Cup.
Fabregas’ rise to ascension as Arsenal’s Messiah meant the Gooners’ perception of their star midfielder would often be blinded by his dazzling displays earlier in the season. If Arsenal capitulated, as was often the case, Cesc would be spared from criticism. After all, there was always someone else to blame.
Was it Arsene Wenger’s over-reliance on an unmasked underachiever that ultimately led to those painfully barren years? We’ll never know, but the facts state that second-half Fabregas failed to outperform first-half Fabregas in all but two of his seven seasons under Wenger.
This trend continued at Barcelona, with Fabregas failing to consistently perform over the course of a season.
As we near the climax of the current Premier League, Jose Mourinho cannot afford to rely on an unreliable talent. Cesc’s performances have enabled Chelsea to get one hand on the trophy, but having been involved in just three goals since the turn of the year, he is most certainly not the man to grasp it with the other.
Cesc will likely end up with his first Premier League medal this season, and one that is he fully deserving of. However, his inability to perform over an entire season is a cause for concern.
There’s no doubting that Cesc Fabregas is an outstanding player, but as he nears his 28th birthday one has to question how long his impressive starts can overshadow his inadequate endings.
From exceptional to ordinary, Cesc Fabregas has fooled us all.