By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger is sure that Cesc Fabregas will resume his role as Arsenal's leader this season.
The Spanish midfielder has held the armband since November 2008 but he's been the heartbeat of the side for much longer than that. His talents drew the attention of Barcelona over the summer and the story rumbled on until early August when Fabregas confirmed he would stay in North London.
The 23-year-old is still working his way back to full fitness after a successful but gruelling World Cup. Fabregas started his first game of the season on Saturday when he featured for an hour in the 2-1 win at Blackburn. Afterwards Wenger confirmed that his captain would very soon assume every aspect of the role.
"He will be the player he was before without any problem and he will be stronger," said the Frenchman. "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."
The manager added that Fabregas was unaware his game would only last 68 minutes on Saturday. However he expected the reigning Arsenal.com Player of the Season to take a greater role when Premier League football returns after the international break.
"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.
"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."