Arsenal can still challenge for title insists Fabregas

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The Independent Football

Defiant Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas maintains his side can prove their doubters wrong and become worthy challengers for the Barclays Premier League title.

The Gunners simply had no answer to Manchester United as the champions swept to a 3-1 win at Emirates Stadium yesterday.

It was the second time this season Arsene Wenger's young side have found themselves wanting in a clash against their direct title rivals, with Chelsea recording a comfortable 3-0 victory at the end of November.

The defeat ended a 10-match unbeaten run during which Arsenal had hauled themselves back into contention for the title.

If Chelsea beat Hull in their re-arranged midweek fixture then Arsenal will again be eight points adrift of the league leaders as they prepare to head to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The doom-mongers may have already written off the Gunners chances of landing a first championship since 2004, while Russia midfielder Andrey Arshavin admits it is "getting even harder to believe" in the wake of another crushing defeat.

Fabregas, though, maintains all is not yet lost.

"We have to be positive," the Arsenal captain declared.

"It is very easy to say we lost to Manchester United and let our heads go down.

"We have to be strong, be together more than ever and do our best until the end of the season."

Fabregas, 21, added: "With all my respect, I really do not care what people think about us. It is about what we believe up until the end of the season.

"People are not going to play for us and it is up to us to show what we can do.

"People watch the football and enjoy it, but we must do our talking on the pitch."

Fabregas, though, knows Arsenal face a tough challenge.

"If you don't believe, you don't win things. We want to believe we are still there - I am always realistic and I am not going to lie to myself or to anyone. We know it is very difficult," the Spain international said.

"Chelsea were better than us, Manchester United have been better than us so it something we have to think about to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"It is going to be difficult definitely, but no-one said it is going to be easy.

"We just have to be strong and see what happens next week."

Fabregas added: "Chelsea is never a good game to have, even if you are eight points clear or eight points behind. They are a strong side, they have been playing together for a long time.

"We have to beat them to stay in the title race.

"We started losing there last season, but we scored twice.

"That means in football it is so difficult to predict what is going to happen.

"So let's be positive and see if we can get a result there."

Wenger felt there were some "mental reasons" for Arsenal's failure to deliver a cohesive performance in such a big game, having maintained in the pre-match build-up his young squad were a "different animal" to the one United had destroyed in their Champions League semi-final showdown last season.

There have been calls for the Gunners boss to make signings ahead of the transfer deadline, but any late deals for reported targets Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who maintains he is staying at AC Milan, and Nice striker Loic Remy appear unlikely.