By Richard Clarke
Cesc Fabregas steadfastly refuses to have an inferiority complex about Manchester United.
Ahead of the visit of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to Emirates Stadium for the Champions League Semi-Final second leg, the Arsenal captain suggested the visitors’ 1-0 lead meant little, home advantage could be a massive help and the opponents expensively-assembled squad were no better than Arsène Wenger’s.
They are bold words considering the gap between the two sides at Old Trafford last week. Manchester United won 1-0 but Arsenal were indebted to Manuel Almunia for keeping them in the tie.
The Spanish keeper is perhaps the best example of an unheralded player achieving great things after being spotted by Wenger. Traditionally, Manchester United have spent more but, according to Fabregas, that is not always directly linked with the quality of the individual.
“It doesn’t mean that because one player cost £20 million he is better than one that cost £2m,” said the midfielder on his 22nd birthday. “I don’t agree with that at all. It's been shown with the likes of Patrick, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry. They were the best players in the world, have won the World Cup and European Championships but some players who have cost £20 or £30m, they haven’t won anything. So it doesn’t mean anything in this tie.
“We know what we can do, we know we are good and we just have to be positive and believe we can do it tomorrow night.
“When you play at home it is completely different for any team in the world. You are playing behind your fans. You know the stadium, the pitch, the grass, much better. You know where you have to play the ball and when you don’t have to play it. As a team, if we are strong, compact, don’t let them play and put pressure on them I am sure we have a great chance of going through.
“It’s 1-0, we are not talking about 4-0 here. In the Champions League, anything can happen. At home we know we are very strong. We will have our fans behind us - they will be amazing I am sure of that. We just have to play our game, be confident we can do it because I know we can do it. Let's focus on our game, be positive and go for it.”Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 4 May 2009