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Nov 25, 2008

Gunners begin new era under new leader Cesc

New Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has pledged the young Gunners must now "fulfil our potential".

Sacked skipper William Gallas has been reinstated to his defensive role for the Champions League clash against Dynamo Kiev but 21-year-old Fabregas is the new permanent skipper, one of the youngest in the club's history. Giving him the responsibility may also serve to deflect his attention from a raft of continental suitors which may well have been uppermost in Arsene Wenger's choice of on-pitch leader.

"It is a great honour for me to captain one of the biggest clubs in the world. It is a proud moment," Fabregas declared.

"I know it is a big responsibility, but together with my team-mates, I know we have the spirit and commitment to get back to winning ways and fulfil our potential."

Wenger, though, hopes the Gallas saga can now be put behind player, squad and club alike as Arsenal aim to secure a place in the knockout stages of Europe's elite club competition with a match to spare.

"I do not think I have to especially explain why I make the decisions, but it is permanent," said Wenger.

"It is a good opportunity now for us to show we have strength and ability to deal with it."

Wenger insists he has no regrets about making the outspoken Frenchman his Arsenal captain after the departure of Thierry Henry. However, the Gunners boss accepted the pressures of the role may have taken their toll in the end.

"I have a big respect for him," said Wenger. "William is a player and a man whom I rate.

"He was working as a captain in a very difficult media environment, he was under big pressure from the press and at some stage you do not want this high pressure to affect him or the team."

Wenger rejected reports Gallas was set to be sold when the January transfer window opens in January.

"I cannot stop the suggestions, but for me he is a player who is committed to the club and can be stronger as a player because he took all of the problems of the team to his heart," he said.

"It can be a new start for him and he can be stronger as a player.

"But now I think we have to close this subject and you have to respect somewhere a little bit the privacy of the team."

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