Arsenal star will soon be back to his best, says boss

ARSENAL were led out by Cesc Fabregas for the first time this season on Saturday, and Arsene Wenger has no doubt that his captain will lead by example again in the coming campaign. The 23-year-old has been gently reintroduced to action after his summer sp

ARSENAL were led out by Cesc Fabregas for the first time this season on Saturday, and Arsene Wenger has no doubt that his captain will lead by example again in the coming campaign.

The 23-year-old has been gently reintroduced to action after his summer spent winning the World Cup with Spain and openly admitting that he wanted to move back to Barcelona.

And while the Gunners skipper did not look overly impressed with being hauled off while trying to help protect a 2-1 lead at Ewood Park on Saturday, his manager made light of a rare show of public dissatisfaction from his midfielder.

"Cesc loves to play and that is why I did not tell him he could come off before the game," said Wenger. "He did not know he would come off.


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"He had not played since the World Cup final. That was on July 11 and we are now the end of August. It is difficult and he should be ready for the next game."

Such has been the professional demeanour of Fabregas since his proposed return to Spain fell through almost four weeks ago, it is easy to overlook the fact that the player might be a little annoyed at still being an Arsenal player.

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Having watched Barca opt instead for Liverpool's Javier Mascherano, who did agitate quite openly for a move away from Anfield, a lingering sense of resentment from Fabregas would not be altogether surprising.

However, the Gunners' captain has never gone on record to say he no longer wanted to play for Arsenal, and his manager has no doubt that his key player will soon return

"He will be the player he was before without any problem and he will be stronger," said the Gunners' boss. "And of course I think he will, once he is fit again, be involved mentally in the team.

"He is our leader, he is the leader of our team and he has a massive responsibility. I am convinced he will stand up for it."

Fabregas looked a little rusty at Blackburn, after just three full weeks back in training and a brief substitute appearance in the 6-0 win over Blackpool a week earlier.

But he should be up to full fitness by the time Bolton come to the Emirates on Saturday week.

For once Wenger is not cursing the international schedule, which will see Fabregas join up with Spain for Friday night's qualifier against Liechtenstein and then a friendly against Argentina on Tuesday.

While the latter game will take place in Buenos Aires and require long-distance travel, any game action Fabregas can get during the international week will be a boost for Wenger.

What the Frenchman will not be looking forward to are the inevitable stories that will surface in the Spanish press with Fabregas.

The Spanish media enjoy close relationships with most of their players, and were the chosen outlet for Fabregas when he first mentioned Barcelona back in May.

Whatever happens, Fabregas will clearly stay at Arsenal for the rest of the season, but only during the next nine months will we see how committed he is to a long-term future at the club.

Many at the Nou Camp feel that the deal has merely been put on hold for a year, much as their great rivals' Real Madrid had to do with Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo still led United to the Premier League title in his final season at Old Trafford, and Arsenal would gladly settle for the same from Fabregas if this is indeed a season-long swansong.

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