Captain Fabregas hails Djourou

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregras has applauded team-mate Johan Djourou after the Swiss international’s recent return to the Gunners' line-up, stating that he would have found it hard to return from a long layoff in the way that Djourou has.

After a long list of fitness problems, which included a lengthy spell on sidelines due to a knee injury which caused Djourou to only represent Arsenal once last season, the 23-year-old has put himself back in contention for a regular starting berth with a string of solid performances.

Since being recalled by Arsene Wenger as a replacement for the injured Thomas Vermaelen, Djourou has played an important part in the Gunners' season, which included a sturdy performance in Wednesday night's 0-0 draw against big-spending Manchester City.

Ahead of the clash, Fabregas said in his programme notes: “I’ve talked about Johan before, but I really admire how he’s handled his comeback.

“I don’t know how I would react to a season without playing but he was always strong, smiling and working hard. The boss has treated him really well, with caution, and he’s now playing fantastically for us.

“Hopefully he can keep it up because I think that, with the way we play, we need a centre-back like him – strong, good on the ball, quick, making his presence felt on the opposition striker.”

By Matt Maltby