LONDON - Cesc Fabregas hopes the beginning of his tenure as Arsenal's club captain can signify a fresh start and a turning point in their season. The 21-year-old Spaniard gave an assured display in a 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday, pulling the strings in midfield to seal Arsenal's place in the last 16 of the Champions League. Tougher tasks await, none more so than a visit to Stamford Bridge on Sunday to play Premier League leaders Chelsea, but Fabregas believes the north London club can recover from the malaise that has threatened to wreck their season. Five domestic league defeats have left Arsenal 10 points off the pace while the removal of Frenchman William Gallas as club captain at the weekend for his comments about the team in the media hinted at dressing room disharmony. "I'm not a big shouter and, to be honest, I will not change my playing style now that I am captain," Fabregas said in his first programme notes for Tuesday's game. "I will try to lead by example first of all. I have always tried to do that on the pitch, anyway -- armband or no armband. "Away from the pitch I will try to be normal, be myself, and with the help of everyone else at the club I'm sure we can get through this bad period and have a fresh new start this season." ROLE MODELS Fabregas was quick to praise Gallas after the game, despite an erratic performance from the France defender. He will need everybody on board if Arsenal are to challenge for silverware. However, Fabregas picked out former captains Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira as the examples he would like to follow. "I will speak to Thierry on the phone occasionally and I will ask him about it," he said. "Patrick Vieira was a truly amazing captain. He never said too much before the games but on the pitch you always knew you could count on him to go into war with you." Fabregas provided the pass for Nicklas Bendtner to score the winner against Kiev three minutes from time at the Emirates -- a goal that calmed the jitters in Arsenal's injury-hit side. Manager Arsene Wenger, who gave Fabregas his chance to shine in the first team as a 17-year-old, said he was not surprised at how well the midfielder had handled the occasion. "He was very good for me," said Wenger. "Focused for 90 minutes in the game, he worked hard. "The best way to help your team as captain is to play well yourself, then the rest follows. I have never met someone who was a born leader. But I believe Cesc can develop it."
26 November 2008
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