Gunners ready to declare war on the 'bullies'

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The Independent Football

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has warned the Premier League his young side "will not be bullied by anybody" this season. The Gunners captain is recovering from a hamstring problem, an injury which forced him out of the Champions League qualifier second leg against Celtic and the last Premier League game at Manchester United which Arsenal lost 2-1 despite dominating most of the match.

Although not involved in the match, Fabregas felt the manner of the defeat – a second-half penalty and an own-goal from Abou Diaby after having led 1-0 – will only make Arsenal stronger for the challenges ahead. "It hurts to lose in that way, but we were denied many opportunities and it was a very physical game, maybe too physical, but we showed that we will not be bullied by anybody," he said. "Clubs try not to let us play our style of football and some use questionable tactics, but we will not be intimidated by anyone."

Fabregas, 22, spent another summer reading headlines speculating about his future. However, the former Barcelona trainee continues to feel "comfortable" at the north London club. "I know all about the speculation about Barcelona, but you have to understand I am a professional and I am an Arsenal player," he said. "We have made a good start and we can go on to do good things this season.

"You can never know what will happen in football, and it is always an honour to be linked with a prestigious club like Barcelona, who I know all about but let's see how Arsenal does this season. I am sure we will win something soon. I am comfortable here and Arsène Wenger has helped me a lot and for that I will always respect him. I would like to win a major trophy again, but we will see."

Wenger did not complete any more business before the transfer deadline, as a deal to bring former captain Patrick Vieira back to the club failed to materialise.

With no agreement reached to take centre-half Philippe Senderos, who spent last season on loan at Milan, to Everton, the Swiss international will now find himself as cover for William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen with compatriot Johan Djourou facing up to six months on the sidelines after knee surgery.

Off the field, speculation grows that Alisher Usmanov is close to upping his stake in Arsenal's parent holding company with the purchase of Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith's 15.9 per cent share.

Should the Uzbek oil magnate, whose Red & White Holdings own just over a quarter of the total shares, complete any such deal with the former director, who left the board in December 2008, it would pass the 30 per cent threshold which, under the City's financial regulations, then automatically triggers a formal takeover bid.

Currently, American entrepreneur Stan Kroenke is Arsenal's biggest single shareholder, with 28.58 per cent.