Fabregas's future distracts from young Gunners' display of class

Arsenal 3 Celtic 2

Arsenal made hard work of defending the Emirates Cup yesterday, hanging on to beat Celtic 3-2 after leading 3-0. Now, though, comes an even more difficult task – winning the club's first piece of serious silverware for five seasons.

As if finishing ahead of Chelsea, Manchester United and the rest in the Premier League is not enough of a challenge, Arsène Wenger, the manager, also faces the unwanted complication of the Cesc Fabregas situation.

The Arsenal captain returns on Thursday from a four-week post-World Cup break, bringing with him the baggage that Wenger agreed on Saturday was an unwelcome distraction to everyone at the club. Although Barcelona have given up their pursuit of Fabregas through the official channels, the Catalan press and the Blaugrana players continue to act as though the arrival of Fabregas at the Nou Camp is simply a matter of "when" rather than "if."

One school of thought is that Fabregas should be allowed to leave, thereby removing all further distractions, and giving Wenger money to spend. Wenger, however, would probably then opt to give Alexandre Song, Denilson and Abou Diaby – all missing yesterday – further chances to show what they can do. Those three will now be looking over their shoulders at Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong, both 18, who have excelled in pre-season and did well again for 70 minutes yesterday.

Wenger admitted that the precocity of the two teenagers had altered his thinking about the make-up of his midfield this season. "We were considering maybe going on the market for a midfield player, which we will not do now," he said. "Frimpong is a bit less a dribbler, but he's a fighter and a winner. He can choose between England and Ghana, so I would have no hesitation and invite him to play for England."

Wilshere has already been mentioned by the national manager, Fabio Capello, as a future England player but Wenger urged caution. "Let's not make them stars before they are stars," he said. "But in 2012 he will be 20. Theo Walcott went to the World Cup at 17 and it didn't kill him."

Arsenal began briskly. Carlos Vela slid home Walcott's cross after four minutes and Lukasz Zaluska then dived over Bacary Sagna's left-foot shot after 44 minutes. Walcott provided his second assist six minutes after the interval, Samir Nasri converting his short pass from 15 yards.

Celtic's embarrassment appeared complete when Georgios Samaras hit a penalty kick high and wide, but it seemed to inspire them, and Daryl Murphy struck from close range. Ki Sung-yeung scored a second eight minutes from time. "For 70 minutes we played well then collapsed a bit, and you could see that everybody has not got 90 minutes in their legs, but I have seen what I wanted to see," Wenger said.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Almunia; Sagna (E Eboué 62), Djourou, Vermaelen (L Koscielny 73), Clichy (Gibbs 62); Frimpong, Wilshere; Walcott, Rosicky (Nasri, 46), Vela (Arshavin 62); Emmanuel-Thomas (Chamakh, 46). Substitutes not used Mannone (gk), Randall, Nordtveit, Hoyte, Yennaris.

Celtic (4-3-3): Zaluska (Cervi, 46); Hinkel (Samaras, 61), Rogne, Hooiveld, Mulgrew (Twardzik, 66); Maloney, Juarez, Crosas (Du-Ri, 61); Ki, Murphy Hooper, 86) Rasmussen (Fortune 61). Substitutes not used Hooper.

Referee A Marriner (England).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried