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FA Cup quarterfinal draw

FA Cup
By ESPN Staff

Fabregas takes confidence from victory

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas wants to lead his club back into the Premier League title race, after sealing a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Fabregas' first match with the armband resulted in the 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev, after a week of turmoil that led to William Gallas being stripped of the captaincy.

"We showed we are united,'' said Fabregas - whose next assignment is Chelsea in the league at the weekend - when Arsenal may have Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri and Bacary Sagna returning from injury.

"We want to get back in the title race, so we have to win,'' he added on Sky Sports News. "But let's not put too much pressure on Sunday's game. We go there with confidence.''

Fabregas set up Nicklas Bendtner's winner three minutes from time against Kiev, although there was confusion over whether the pass was a free-kick or a drop ball that should have been given back to the Ukrainians.

"The referee said 'leave the ball to me' - so I took it and played. We have to accept that,'' Fabregas added on ITV4.

Fabregas has warned the race for the Premier League title is not over.

He said: "The aim is to lift a trophy. We are in the last 16 of the Champions League and are in contention in every competition. We have played only 14 league games this season and it is not over yet. Nothing is done and we will fight until the end.

"Our target is to go there and win, because we could get some points back. The other teams at the top have some difficult games as well, so we will see.

"We have to play as a team and when we play good and quick passing, we can play against anybody and win.

"Arsenal never go for a draw, we always go for a win and I am sure a club like Chelsea will do the same as well because every time I have played against them they have always gone forwards, to go for the victory.

"It was a normal game for me and I don't really think about it. I am committed to the game and I do not realise if I am wearing the armband or not.

"I just to try to play for Arsenal and my team-mates and give my best.''

Gallas had a strike disallowed at the Emirates Stadium and also blocked a Robin van Persie shot that appeared to be heading on.

"I believe his focus was great,'' manager Arsene Wenger said of his fellow Frenchman. "He wanted to do well, and you could see he was completely committed in the game.

"Overall, I feel he did well. The crowd responded well. Somewhere, they acknowledged that he was a committed captain - and I was very happy that the crowd reacted in this way to him.''

Wenger was pleased with Fabregas too, adding: "He was very good tonight for me - focused for 90 minutes in the game, worked hard defensively and offensively. It was not easy in midfield, because they closed us down very well. I expected them to go up a little bit in the second half, but they didn't.''

Wenger believes Gallas was the victim of a "witch hunt'', after he revealed rifts in the Arsenal dressing room.

"It was based neither on the man himself nor his quality as a player but more on his blunder,'' the Gunners boss told French television channel Canal+, of his punishment of the former Chelsea player.

"He didn't intend to be malicious, but it put his team under enormous pressure. He will remain himself, and it can free him as a player if there is less pressure.''

Of the criticism aimed at Gallas during his captaincy, Wenger - who admitted last weekend was "one of the most difficult'' he has endured in north London - added: "It was a witch hunt - and everything that he did, even when it was good, was bad.

"In these conditions, the player had no chance.''


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