Arsenal vs Chelsea - Community Shield 2015: 'We are our own biggest threat,' says Cesc Fabregas

The Premier League champions face Fabregas's ex-team Arsenal today

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The Independent Football

Cesc Fabregas knows his football, or at least the historic context of his club’s forthcoming season. When it was put to him at Chelsea’s Cobham training base that it’s been a while since any side retained the title, the midfielder immediately interjected: “Yes, United,” referencing Alex Ferguson’s 2008-09 win at Old Trafford. “That shows you it is very, very difficult to do it.”

It is certainly one of the oddities of the Premier League. And in the last 30 years, the only managers to retain the title are those relentless winners and robust characters, Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, which perhaps indicates the problem is one of mentality rather than quality.

Having the right mentality duly dominated Fabregas’s interview ahead of today’s Community Shield against his old team Arsenal. When asked whether reigning champions Chelsea would be as driven as last season, the midfielder shot back: “Even more. If we want to win we have to be more powerful and determined to achieve things, as other teams know that we are champions.

“But we are confident. The coach believes a lot in the squad. It is more or less the same as last season. He didn’t make many changes, so that means he is happy with us and we have to prove him right, every year.”

One of the truisms of the dynasties at Liverpool over the 1970s and ’80s, and United over the ’90s and 2000s, was that you should always seek to build on a title-winning team. Mourinho hasn’t done that, only really replacing back-ups in Didier Drogba and Petr Cech with Radamel Falcao and Asmir Begovic, respectively.

On Friday, the Portuguese confirmed Fabregas’s view on this, stating that he felt a loyalty to those who won the title. “When you are champions, you owe something to the players,” Mourinho said. “I prefer the group to know that I’m there for them, and recognise what they did for us, even if other teams invest hugely.”

 

 

It is an approach that does seem dangerous given the signings at the Manchester clubs, and Arsenal’s pursuit of a striker, but Fabregas does not see this powerful trio as the biggest threat to Chelsea defending the title.

“We are our own biggest threat,” he argues. “We are playing against ourselves in terms of being better than last year. We don’t look at the others and think we can lose to this team or that team, as all of them are very good… I play against myself. I want to be better. [Nemanja] Matic the same, Thibaut [Courtois], Diego [Costa], we all want to do better and if we all do better we have a big chance to retain it.”

Fabregas feels in the perfect place to do that, given that he just turned 28 in May. He also points to the extra responsibility of having a second daughter during the summer as helping that maturing.

“Everyone says it’s the best age for a football player - between 28 and 32. We’ll see if that is true. Physically, I feel strong and it  is a big season in front of me  and Chelsea.”

 

In front of them today will be an old colleague - Petr Cech. Fabregas, however, insists that all at Stamford Bridge understand the goalkeeper’s decision to join Arsenal.

“He gave a lot to the club, we respect his wish and he earned his decision after what he gave to the club. Everyone is happy, nobody is unhappy with his decision – it is completely the opposite. We want the best for him and want him to be happy but hopefully not on Sunday for once.”

Fabregas also insists Chelsea are ready to be at their best. “We have a good squad, fresh legs, a good rest. No Euros, no World Cups… we know we have the quality, I can see in the people’s faces the same ambition and drive as last season. I am not worried about it as I knew if that wasn’t the case the manager would change it.”

Chelsea are ready to try and change recent history and retain the title.

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