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English Premiership

Wenger turns to Fabregas

LONDON, August 12- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will begin the Premier League season claiming one victory already in persuading Cesc Fabregas to remain at the club.

And now that he has secured the services of his midfield talisman for at least one more season, Wenger is confident that Arsenal can finally end their five-year wait for a trophy.

The long saga over Barcelona’s courting of Wenger’s captain was foremost in fans’ minds as Fabregas made it clear that he wanted to return to the Nou Camp.

But after a swift rebuff for the Catalan side from Wenger and a heart-to-heart upon Fabregas’s return following his part in Spain’s World Cup win, it seems as if all is well in the red half of north London.

"I believe we have a good chance. The most important thing is that we have that belief," Wenger said.

"We finished third last season, so we have two stairs to climb and I am confident that we can do it.

"We have to make that final hurdle and that’s linked with belief and experience and maturity.

"I think we can make the difference because the team is growing and this year will not be the same animal as last year. They will go into the big games and say, ‘Come on, let’s show who we are now’."

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While fans will be celebrating along with Wenger at Fabregas’s commitment to the club, for 12 months at least, there is a concern over the lack of experience in the Gunners’ defence.

Wenger released both William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre, while also failing to agree an extension on veteran England central defender Sol Campbell’s second spell at the club.

He has brought in Frenchman Laurent Koscielny to bolster the backline, but the concern is that the most experienced defender he has is Thomas Vermaelen, who has been at the club just one season.

And he is also lacking in cover, with Swiss international Johan Djourou – who spent much of last season out with a knee injury – the only man available as back-up.

Then there is his worry over a reliable goalkeeper, with both Manuel Almunia and Lucas Fabianski prone to errors.

There has been talk over bringing in Fulham’s Australian international goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and although Wenger won’t acknowledge his need for a new stopper, he concedes that there is a necessity to do more business before the end of August.

He added: "We have lost Silvestre, Campbell and Gallas and we have only signed Koscielny. Djourou is coming back so you could say we have got two but we are still two short."

Apart from Koscielny, bought for 10 million poubds, Marouane Chamakh is the only other player Wenger has brought in during the close-season, with the Moroccan forward signing on a free transfer from Bordeaux.

The combined total of the two may seem like small change compared to the numbers being bandied around at Manchester City.

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But Wenger is adamant his approach is still the correct one: stable financial management and faith in the young players coming good.

"Do I think we have a team to play at the top? Looking at the players we have, I say yes," Wenger said.

"Have other clubs more money or less money? It is not important. It is whether they have better players or lesser players and I think we can compete with the players we have.

"Two years ago we were quite far off but last season in April we were two points away from the top. Normally we should be closer again because that development is part of a young team.

"I know that in England when you do not win the championship it’s always about buying but what is important is that we improve individually and as a team because we are a very young team.

"We are not a team that is at the end of a cycle, we are at the start of a cycle. So our future will be decided not by who we buy but by how much we improve."



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