Fabregas puts faith in home advantage to tip balance
Tuesday 05 May 2009
Ahead of a game that may well make up Cesc Fabregas' mind as to whether he stays at Arsenal, the Spanish midfielder said that tonight's Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester United changes nothing. Just because other clubs lavished fortunes on transfers, Fabregas said, that did not guarantee them success.
The Arsenal captain was in a forthright mood, dismissing the theory that Arsène Wenger's refusal to spend big on transfers has affected Arsenal's ability to compete with the very best, as well as further insisting that even if this season ends without a trophy, it would not cause him to change his mind about staying at the Emirates.
"It doesn't mean that because one player cost £20m, he is better than one that cost £2m – I don't agree with that at all," Fabregas said. "It has been shown with the likes of Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry.
"They are the best players in the world, they have won World Cups, European Championships and some players who have cost £30m haven't won anything. It doesn't mean anything. We know what we can do, we know we are good and we just have to be positive and believe we can do it."
Wenger has a decision to make on whether to start Denilson or Alex Song alongside Fabregas with the latter the more likely choice. Robin van Persie's imminent return to the team means that Fabregas will switch to the withdrawn midfield position in contrast to the more advanced midfield role that he has fulfilled in recent weeks.
After being eclipsed by Manchester United's midfield in the first leg at Old Trafford, Fabregas' performance will be crucial tonight. "When you play at home it is completely different for any team in the world," he said. "You are playing with your fans, you know the stadium, the pitch, the grass better. You know where you have to play the ball and when you don't have to play it. As a team, if we are strong and compact, if we don't let them play and put pressure on them I am sure we have a great chance of going through.
"If I had not come to Arsenal when I was 16, today I probably would not be playing in the semi-finals of the Champions League or have the opportunity to play in a Champions League final.
"I am really grateful for what Arsenal have done for me. Now it is up to me and all the Arsenal players who were brought here when they were young to achieve things for the club who believed in you and the fans who supported you. Now it is up to us to pay them back."
As perhaps should be expected ahead of such a crucial game, Fabregas denied that he would be tempted to leave the club in the summer if Arsenal were eliminated tonight.
"How many times have I said this? My future belongs to Arsenal and I want to be at Arsenal," he said. "I see my future here. I do not have to tell anyone to be relaxed or more confident that I am staying. My name has been linked with other clubs for four years, and I am still here. That should tell you something."
Time may tell if he is still saying that after five.
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