Did Wenger make a mistake not bringing prodigal son Fabregas back to the Emirates?

Spaniard was sensational on his Chelsea debut at Burnley

When it became clear that Cesc Fabregas would be leaving Barcelona earlier this summer, many observers believed the Spaniard would return to the club that made him the player he is.

Read more: Burnley vs Chelsea match report: Cesc Fabregas steals the show as Jose Mourinho's men complete comeback at Turf Moor
Burnley vs Chelsea: Five things we learnt at Turf Moor
Burnley vs Chelsea player ratings: Cesc Fabregas stands out, but who were the other best performers?

Fabregas had a clause in his contract that would allow Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger first option on the midfielder. A deal bringing Fabregas back to the club seemed a certainty.

But the French manager surprised the football world when he passed up on the opportunity to buy Fabregas, allowing Premier League rivals Chelsea to fill a spot in midfield that had been neglected in recent years.

In 90 minutes last night, the 27-year-old may have proven Wenger has made the biggest mistake of the summer in not bringing his prodigal son home.

It is something of a knee-jerk reaction, the Premier League season still has 37 weeks to run, but such was the level of the performance by Fabregas that the league is already being billed as a two-horse race between Chelsea and Manchester City.

From the first whistle at Turf Moor it was Cesc Fabregas and 21 other players, with the Spaniard controlling the game in a way Chelsea fans have never seen. The Blues have had fantastic, world class midfielders down the years - Lampard, Ballack, Essien and Makelele - but those players dominated through physicality, power and athleticism.

Fabregas' performance was one of dominance through sheer skill.

Video: Mourinho on Fabregas

Burnley took a surprise lead but it was against the run of play and through a rare defensive lapse; Oscar slipping and John Terry not pushing up quick enough.

It took just four minutes for Fabregas to reassert his dominance, playing a stunning back-heel for a Branislav Ivanovic cross that was eventually turned in by debutant Diego Costa after the ball had hit the post.

Four minutes after that and Fabregas produced a moment that will live long in the memory. It is a definite goal of the season contender and will likely be the pass of the season. Andre Schurrle put Chelsea in front after a wonderful pass from Cesc Fabregas Fabregas produced a sensational pass for Andre Schurrle to make it 2-1

Chelsea fans have never seen anything like it. A long passing move ended up with Ivanovic cutting the ball back to the Spaniard who was on the edge of the box.

The whole ground expected him to shoot but he perfectly disguised a pass to Schurrle; the millions watching probably didn't even realise the German was on the move. It was a sublime piece of skill of a variety Chelsea fans had not seen before.

Fabregas wasn't finished there, however, and whipped in a perfect corner for Ivanovic to make it 3-1. Chelsea shut up shop in the second-half but the game never moved in a way that Fabregas didn't dictacte. He completed 87 passes on the night, not the type of sideways and backwards passes John Obi Mikel would make, but passes that get players moving and bending to his will.

When Fabregas was asked about a potential move to Arsenal he said: "I looked for the best option for me. Arsenal was the first option, for contractual reasons. There was a clause that gave them the right to decide.

"We spoke to Wenger and he said that the space was very well filled by Mesut Ozil and it was hard to find a place for both of us in the team."

Ozil does fill a vital position for Arsenal, the creative hub and link between midfield and attack. The German will be better than in his first year and should provide plenty of goals and assists for the Gunners. But looking at the way Fabregas played last night, the Spaniard would not have replaced Ozil in the team.  Arsene Wenger has warned his players to expect a physical test against Besiktas Arsene Wenger looks to have made a grave error in passing up the opportunity to sign the Spaniard

He wouldn't have replaced Aaron Ramsey either, who has turned into the box-to-box goalscoring force that Frank Lampard once was for the Blues. Fabregas, playing in a deep playmaking, or 'No 4' role, would likely have jettisoned Mikel Arteta from the Arsenal team.

Arteta may be the club captain and a good influence in the Arsenal dressing room but he is a declining force. Against Crystal Palace he completed 95 per cent of his passes, but all too many of those were simple five-yard sideways balls that did nothing against a packed defence. He was never willing to pass and probe and he was never able to provide that match-winning, definitive moment that Fabregas does.

Chelsea and Manchester City buy the best players, regardless of who happen to already be in that position. Fernandinho, by all accounts, was an excellent performer for the Champions last season, but Manuel Pellegrini moved to buy Fernando anyway, knowing he'd need a defensive stopper for tough away games and big Champions League nights. Fabregas could have replaced Mikel Arteta in the Arsenal side rather than Mesut Ozil or Aaron Ramsey Fabregas could have replaced Mikel Arteta in the Arsenal side rather than Mesut Ozil or Aaron Ramsey

Fernando was excellent and a key part of City's win at St James' Park.

There are financial concerns that may have stopped the deal, of course, but if Arsenal truly want to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, they need the very best players when they become available. Especially if those men are former players who have a special affinity with the club and would have loved to have gone back.

Fabregas said last night he would've "never expected" to play for Chelsea. Now he is at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will take some stopping.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own