Cesc Fabregas has labelled former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard as the “toughest opponent” he ever faced while donning the colours of Arsenal.
The Spanish legend, now turning out for Monaco in Ligue 1, represented the Gunners during an eight-year stint in north London, during which time he was present across arguably the club’s most succesful period as they won the 2003/04 Premier League season in unbeaten fashion.
The 34-year-old was also instrumental under Arsene Wenger as the club won the 2005 FA Cup, reached the 2006 Champions League final, and consolidated their status as one of the game’s most aesthetically-pleasing teams to watch, owing to their pass-heavy playing style.
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There were many formidable midfield opponents Fabregas came up against during his stint in the Premier League for Arsenal, having also turned out for Chelsea between 2014 and 2019, but he has revealed Liverpool’s former skipper forced him to up his game the most.
During a Q&A on his official twitter account, one user put forward the question as to who the best player he ever faced while at Arsenal was, to which Fabregas replied: “Steven Gerrard”.
Steven Gerrard https://t.co/K7soVajmOo
— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) October 28, 2021
This is not the first time the Spaniard has labelled Gerrard his sternest test in the Premier League, selecting the Merseysider ahead of Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes last year when the question was put forward to him.
He told Match Of The Day’s Top 10 podcast in July 2020: “If I have to say one – and I really enjoyed playing against – I would say Steven Gerrard.
“He was physically the most difficult opponent to handle. He was the box-to-box player, he could be on his right or left, shooting from the outside of his boot. He was a machine.”
Fabregas also told Rio Ferdinand during an appearance on The Locker Room podcast that he hugely admires Scholes and models his game off the Manchester United legend more than Gerrard or Lampard, despite his appreciation for the former.
“Since I was little I had this thing about Steven Gerrard,” Fabregas told Ferdinand.
“He was someone in my hometown when we used to watch the highlights of the Premier League he used to score these screamers from outside the box, and running into space, and he used to be everywhere and I used to look up to him a lot.
“In terms of the way I play and the way that I see football, it is Paul Scholes.
“What a player. He loved one-twos, he was right, he was left, he always demanded the ball.”