He had just dominated the midfield against the most celebrated team in European football and last night Cesc Fabregas laid down a challenge to his Arsenal team-mates that seems more possible with every game: to win the Champions League and the Premier League this season.
After scoring the first goal in the 2-0 win to set up a first ever victory by an English team over Milan at San Siro, Fabregas said: "We don't have 25 internationals like Chelsea so we can't challenge for all four trophies, but we are in contentions for the two that we really want. We are top of the Premier League and we are in the quarter -inals of the Champions League after beating the holders at home, so why can't we win them both?"
Fabregas's views were echoed by his manager, Arsène Wenger who said that Arsenal, could go on to win the Champions League this season. The Frenchman said that his team had demonstrated their quality by recovering from the trauma of Eduardo da Silva's injury and a faltering Premier League season to eliminate the holders.
A place in the quarter-finals to go with their spot at the top of the Premier League was, Wenger said, all the evidence required that his team were not in crisis.
"I said we could win it before now," Wenger said. "The competition is very hard. It's a cup competition and you have to take it like that. On the day, we were maybe better than Milan. We might play them on Friday and it could be different. We'll go for it. We're in the quarter-finals, so why should we not believe we can do it?"
He continued: "What gives me an extra satisfaction was that the team went really for it. You sometimes feel as a manager that there is something in the team. You know that, for them to get a step higher up, they need to deliver in a game like that. I hope that result will strengthen the belief in the team. We'd like to take advantage of that belief while keeping a balance between that belief and humility. That is what allows you to be consistent."
With some sections of the Milan crowd appearing to applaud Arsenal's performance as they left San Siro, Wenger said that his team had flourished under the pressure of a goalless first leg at the Emirates Stadium. "They have grown. They deserved a lot of credit. We've dropped off in terms of confidence in the Premier League recently and we've not been in the most positive environment recently. To find the mental strength – I like that we did. We found the mental strength to play without any restrictions, and that makes me proud.
"I believe that Fabregas, [Alexander] Hleb and [Mathieu] Flamini in the middle of the park delivered. They didn't give Milan room. They defended very well and, when we had the ball, they had support from the flanks in [Bacary] Sagna and [Gaël] Clichy and supported them well. That gives them solutions. They did a good job defensively as well as going forward. The whole team did a good defensive job."
For the man of the moment, it was, Fabregas said, "a dream come true". He added: "To win in Milan 2-0, it is amazing. William [Gallas] said before the game enjoy the atmosphere. That is what we did. But this is just the beginning. We are now in the quarter-finals but we have not done anything. It is just one more step."
Wenger said the game was comparable to when Thierry Henry scored the winner in a 1-0 victory against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu almost two years ago. "It's similar to winning in Madrid," Wenger said. "We knocked out the holders. It shows that 0-0 at home is not a bad result. This team is very young but they've won at Bernabeu, and now at San Siro, and you need some quality to do that."Reuse content