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World Cup stars by the numbers

Who's a secret secret weapon?

Cesc Fabregas (Spain)

The Arsenal skipper made 24 appearances last season with the Gunners earning 24 per cent more PPG with him at 2.12 than without at 1.71 PPG. Furthermore they scored 15 per cent more goals (2.29 per game compared with 2.00) and conceded slightly fewer goals (1.08 to 1.14) when Fabregas played. Also, Fabregas scored 11 times last season, making him Arsenal’s top scorer.

The Spaniard has also had a positive impact in their away matches against top-half teams. He’s played 23 of the last 30 with a PPG of 1.52 compared to Arsenal’s 1.29 without him – a 14 per cent drop.

Fabregas featured in seven qualifiers, though he started and played an hour only three times. In those three games Fabregas scored twice, although Spain won all their 10 qualifying games, scoring 28 goals in the process, so were not exactly weaker without him.

During the Euro 2008 qualifying and finals Fabregas played six of 18 matches and maintained a 100 per cent record, with Spain scoring 15 goals and conceding just two when he played. In contrast they won only eight of 12 without him as they lost twice and conceded nine goals while scoring 22.

Robin van Persie (Holland)

Robin van Persie made only 14 appearances last season but Arsenal’s goals per game were 67 per cent higher at 2.93 with him than without (1.75 per game) while their PPG was also slightly higher with the Dutchman (2.07 compared to 1.92). Van Persie found the net 10 times in his 14 appearances.

Van Persie has played 13 of Arsenal’s last 30 trips to top-half teams with a PPG of 1.62 and an average of 2.00 goals per game. This compared favourably to Arsenal’s PPG without him of 1.35 (17 per cent fewer) and their average goals per game of 1.47 (27 per cent fewer).

Up the Gunners

The Dutchman scored one goal in his five qualifying appearances, during which the Netherlands scored 10 goals and conceded just twice. Meanwhile without him they won all three of their other qualifiers, scoring seven goals without reply.

In the 2008 Euro qualifiers and finals van Persie played eight of the Netherlands’ 16 games and recorded seven wins and one draw with 13 goals scored to just three conceded as he found the net five times himself. In the eight games he missed the Dutch won only half and lost three times with 11 goals scored and seven conceded.

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