Cesc Fabregas gave another painful reminder to Arsenal fans about what could have been, but the Gunners faithful got a glimpse of the man who can emulate them in Jack Wilshere.
Chelsea came roaring back after a dismal first half against Swansea City saw them fall behind and Fabregas was instrumental in seeing the Stamford Bridge club run out 4-2 winners to go two points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Wilshere played a key role in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City, scoring one and setting up the other in what was probably his most impressive Gunners performance in a long while.
Best summer transfer?
It’s early days yet in the Premier League but the opening fixtures suggest that the reported £27million the Blues paid for Fabregas could be one of the bargains of the season.
He has already notched up six assists in the first four Premier League matches of the season and has been key in making Diego Costa’s transition from Spain to England seamless and goal-heavy.
Fabregas was already a world-class player before he left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2011, but his time at Camp Nou has instilled in him a great poise around the opposition area and more of an appreciation of space.
Cesc has grown
Mourinho allows the 27-year-old to operate deep when he feels the need, but relies on him to get in possession in front of the opposition defence, where he is at his most devastating – the Portuguese manager made his delight at Fabregas’ form clear.
“To play with Fabregas is the dream of every striker,” Mourinho told Chelsea TV after the Swansea win.
“The guy sees the movement, sees the pass, is not selfish, makes always the right choice.”
Cause for optimism
While seeing their former skipper and fan favourite in such a rich vein of form may be painful viewing for Arsenal fans, they have reason to be optimistic for the rest of the season during their draw with the Premier League champions in Saturday’ early kick-off.
This was because the team showed good character to come from behind after Manuel Pellegrini’s side had dominated the first half after taking the lead through Sergio Aguero.
Jack puts on a show
Wilshere was the man to inspire his teammates to that comeback, shrugging off a frustrating showing in the first period and taking responsibility in the middle of the pitch.
His performance turnaround was manifest in his sublime goal to level the match at 1-1; getting higher up the pitch than he had been doing previously, Wilshere received a pass from Aaron Ramsey just inside the area, glided past former teammate Gael Clichy and chipped a delightful finish over Joe Hart.
Emirates Stadium erupted once again when his desire to keep the pressure on saw him head a clearance back into the box for Alexis Sanchez to put the home side ahead with a brilliant guided volley.
Wilshere could have had a second assist moments later that may have finished the match off, but Ramsey could not connect cleanly with the inch-perfect lofted through ball.
Short-term bad, long-term good
Poor set-piece defending saw the champions level the scores once again, but the disappointment felt from that will have been relieved somewhat by the promise of what might be round the corner for the north Londoners.
A hot topic for discussion among commentators and analysts over the last few weeks has been Wilshere’s future and whether he can ever go on to fulfil the vast potential he showed after first bursting into the Arsenal starting XI.
While he has actually been playing a lot better at the start of this season than the way he ended last, his performance in the second half against Manchester City feels like it could be a turning point for him.
Ready to assume the role?
Passes were not going astray, he was strong on the ball, he was not losing the ball as much when dribbling, his passes in the final third were more penetrative and, possibly most importantly, he took responsibility when his team were in trouble.
It was a performance reminiscent of the man that has been doling out painful scenes for Gooners while plying his trade for Chelsea. Fabregas was a huge personality in the squad when still with Arsenal and his brilliance would regularly be the reason for getting them out of trouble.
Wilshere has the ability to emulate his former skipper at Emirates Stadium, he is now beginning to show he is attaining the mentality to do so.
Recovery from a series of injuries, a good pre-season and suffering the heat of criticism during a period of poor form looks like it could be the recipe for Arsene Wenger to find his new Fabregas.