The former Gunners hero returned to the Emirates on Sunday to help his Chelsea side to a 0-0 draw.
It was the day many Arsenal fans had been dreading, or for some, had been looking forward to for an entirely different reason. Perhaps no Gunners supporter had ever imagined a reality where Cesc Fabregas would come to the Emirates in the blue of rivals Chelsea, but Sunday was that day.
Jose Mourinho took his league leaders to Arsenal full in the knowledge that if he avoided defeat, whatever small chances the Gunners would have of catching the West Londoners would dwindle to a near impossibility.
And he played for it too. Whether you abhor the Portuguese's tactics or can see a disciplined resolve in it, there is no denying that another fixture has passed by and Chelsea have maintained their unbeaten record since New Year's Day, and more importantly, have held on to their 10 point lead.
Central to Mourinho's plans was Fabregas. Having been such a symbolic figure of Arsenal during his eight years at the club, it was always going to be a bizarre mixture of appreciation and vitriol that would rain down on him from the Emirates. Whenever he was on the ball he was roundly booed by the Gunners support, although that attitude tended to die down as the game progressed into the last quarter.
But how did the former Arsenal captain do on his return to a stadium that he graced so often as one of the heroes in red and white? Below we have his statistics from the match:
|Position||Team||Accurate Pass||Passing Accuracy||Touches||Total Scoring Att||Total Att Assist||Duel Won||Interception||Yellow Card||Appearances||Mins Played|
What is noticeable is that the Spaniard has significantly lower totals in both total accurate passes and passing accuracy than he displays usually. Fabregas's average in these two categories this season are 70 passes a match with an accuracy of 75%, but on Sunday he only completed 49 passes at a 75% accuracy. His touches on the ball were down to 78 from the 101 he averages.
However, he still clocked more accurate passes than any other Chelsea player, as well as the second most touches after Cesar Azpilicuetta, and he played his part in a defensive role where he made 2 interceptions and won 3 ground duels.
Of course, a key moment in the game came when Fabregas took a tumble in the area after a challenge from compatriot Santi Cazorla. Referee Michael Oliver booked the ex-Barcelona star for diving, replays seemed to show that there was contact, however minimal, though Fabregas did himself no favours with something of a showy fall.
In truth, the 27-year-old struggled to get into the game as much as he would have liked from an attacking perspective, despite Chelsea having several decent openings in the first half. There was one blocked shot, and a couple of chances created, but aside from his booking, the most interesting event surrounding Fabregas was to come at his withdrawal.
Mourinho took him off with a couple of minutes remaining, and the inevitable boos fell down around him, much as they had each time he touched the ball in the match. But a great many Arsenal fans stood up to applaud their old captain, to the extent that they nearly outnumbered those that were disparaging to Fabregas. The player, in turn, clapped to the corners of the stadium, perhaps recognising how difficult it is for Gunners supporters to ever put their hands together for a Chelsea player.