The eternal focus at Arsenal may seemingly be on youth, but the club would be more than happy for Cesc Fabregas to grow old at the Emirates and it is a prospect that their captain, still only 22, finds appealing. The Catalan has been regularly touted for a move back home to Barcelona. Yesterday though he declared himself content to remain at a "great club" as part of a "great team" for the remainder of his career.
Joan Laporta, Barça's outgoing president, recently suggested that an agreement to bring Fabregas back to the club, where he began in the youth ranks, is already in place, but the man in question has dismissed all such speculation.
"This has been going on for years," said Fabregas, who joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old. "It does not affect me at all. I don't mind really if it [the speculation] happens, it happens – but it will not change the way I think. I am at a great club, with a great team and am happy. We can win trophies here. I am really happy with this club, focusing on winning things and we are more than capable of doing it this season."
And what of remaining in north London for years to come? "Why not? I have never really thought about it, staying here all my life, because I am only 22 and you never know what your career will bring – but why not? It is my seventh season now, I am really happy, better than ever."
Fabregas will tonight lead Arsenal in search of the point against Standard Liège that will confirm their place in the last 16 of the Champions League – victory will seal top spot in Group H – and also in search of a timely return to form ahead of Sunday's Premier League meeting with Chelsea, who already have an eight-point advantage over their hosts.
"The Chelsea game is vital," admitted Fabregas. "We have to win. If we play like we can at our best, then we can beat them. With the game in hand we have as well, we could still be there. But first of all, we think about the Liège game, and then about Chelsea, but it is an important week for us."
In the wake of Saturday's defeat at Sunderland, Arsène Wenger has demanded his side "show they want to be winners". "I was disappointed by some departments of our game [against Sunderland] and that is the first time in the season," said Wenger. "We looked more vulnerable on the committed side of our game, and that cannot happen. We have a good opportunity to finish first in the group and qualify, then after we can think about Chelsea. The perfect way is to respond after a disappointing result, that is where you judge a big team and that is what we want to do."
With Robin van Persie – who is "four to six weeks" from a return – and Nicklas Bendtner injured, Wenger may start Carlos Vela tonight, while Theo Walcott is also likely to play. Wenger compares the Mexican Vela to Robbie Fowler, someone he always admired, and coveted, and the 20-year-old is the latest to be proposed as his long sought-after "fox in the box". "Vela is a fantastic talent," Wenger said of a player who has one Premier League goal to his name. "I believe he is a Robbie Fowler-type. He needs very little time to make a decision in the box."
On the other side of north London, Tottenham, who are now level on points with their neighbours, are revelling in the form of one of the sharpest strikers in the country, but Wenger would not be drawn into a comparison.
"What is important is that if you want to be petty in life, you look at what the others do," he said. "If you want to be big in life, you look at your own performance. That's what I want us to do. If you perform well, it doesn't matter what the others do."