Arsene Wenger will 'fight very hard' to retain Cesc Fabregas

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger today vowed to "fight very hard" to keep captain Cesc Fabregas and other key men at Emirates Stadium next season - but warned there is no guarantee of success if they chose to move elsewhere.

The Gunners are heading for a sixth campaign without silverware following a dramatic collapse after losing the Carling Cup final to Birmingham at Wembley 12 weeks ago.

Indeed, Arsenal are no longer guaranteed Champions League football next season as they have slipped down behind FA Cup winners Manchester City into fourth place ahead of the final match of the Barclays Premier League season at Fulham on Sunday, meaning they may have to go through the qualifiers.

Wenger is expected to bring in some experience over the summer to help give his young squad, but will also face another couple of months fending off speculation Fabregas, a perennial target for boyhood club Barcelona, is to leave.

The Arsenal manager, though, once again cut down that suggestion - and insisted a move to the Nou Camp or anywhere else would not automatically bring medals.

"I expect him to be here, and I will fight very hard to keep him here," said Wenger.

"You have always to fight when you have a player of that quality. You must always fight to keep your players."

Wenger warned his stars the grass might not necessarily be greener away from the Emirates Stadium.

He said: "What guarantees you that if you go somewhere else you will win trophies?

"The biggest pride for a captain is to be committed to his club and deliver trophies with his team.

"A player who changes his club every time he is frustrated or when he doesn't win a trophy, goes nowhere.

"I believe the quality of sports life is to be committed to your club and not just to move out when it does not go as well as you expected."

Wenger added: "Cesc Fabregas played 22 games this season out of 38 and we expect him to play between 30 and 38. That will make a huge difference to our efficiency [next season] as well."

If City win at Bolton, Arsenal will finish fourth, no matter what their result at Craven Cottage.

While Wenger believes his men should have nothing to fear from a two-legged play-off in August, he accepted: "There is a massive difference between third and fourth.

"Fourth is to play a qualifier for the Champions League - that is not Champions League football. Third is guaranteeing to be in it.

"We will try to win against Fulham. A draw could be good enough if City lose.

"I do not want to have any regrets and just want to win the game."

While Wenger has confirmed Arsenal, with a reported £35million war chest, will be set for a busy summer in the transfer market, the Gunners boss is not to be drawn on potential targets - having been strongly linked with Blackburn defender Christopher Samba, Bolton's England centre-half Gary Cahill and West Ham midfielder Scott Parker.

"There is a huge potential in the team, but in the decisive moments of the season we were not efficient enough," Wenger said.

"The way we lost some games is something we have to correct for next season."

On whether players would want to join Arsenal rather than one of their big-spending rivals, Wenger added: "If you speak only about money, we are certainly less attractive than some other teams.

"However, if you speak about the quality of the club and the style of play, we have many offers on the table for players who are desperate to join us."

Arsenal will again be without captain Fabregas, because of a thigh problem, while midfielder Samir Nasri (hamstring), Abou Diaby (calf) and Gael Clichy (leg) all face fitness tests ahead of the trip to west London.

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<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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