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Sep 15, 2010

Wenger praises influence of captain Fabregas

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes Cesc Fabregas has taken his game to "a new dimension" after the Arsenal captain scored twice as the Gunners swept aside Champions League newcomers Braga 6-0 at Emirates Stadium.

• Champions League Round-up
• Champions League gallery
Papers: Doubts over Gunners' defence

Arsenal had chalked up 1,000 Premier League goals under Wenger in the 4-1 rout of Bolton here on Saturday, and continued their fine form as the Portuguese debutants were taken apart.

Fabregas led the way, the Spain midfielder - now looking back to his best after the World Cup and a summer of transfer speculation linking him with Barcelona - opening the scoring from the penalty spot and then heading in a second, with only some desperate defending denying him a hat-trick.

"He has taken another dimension,'' Wenger said. "People forget he is 23, where other players start. Cesc has a fantastic influence. What is important is that he leads the team to winning.

"What I like is he gave the ball to Carlos Vela when he could have tried to score a third himself - that reflects the way we want to play the game and on a leader who does what the game wants, not being selfish.

"He arrived here at the age of 16 and enjoys the way we play. What more do you want to be happy? Also it is a fantastic opportunity for the players playing alongside him - if you are 18, like [Jack] Wilshere, and you see Fabregas, it is a big opportunity to learn a lot.

"It wasn't easy for him in the summer, he was under a lot of pressure of course, but I never had any doubt that he loves the club and he wants to do well for us. He's a leader and he shows that in his attitude on and off the pitch.''

After the thrashing of Braga, Fabregas warned his Arsenal team-mates not to expect the rest of their Champions League fixtures to be so straightforward.

Fabregas scored twice and Carlos Vela also hit a double, with the other goals coming from Andrei Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh, as Arsene Wenger's side cruised to the top of Group H at the expense of last season's Portuguese Liga runners-up.

"It was good training because in the Premier League and the Champions League we will have games where we will not have it easy,'' Fabregas told ITV.

When asked if he was happy to be at Arsenal after the summer speculation over a move to Barcelona, he said: "I've always felt fantastic here. I'm very happy to be here.''

Despite the comprehensive nature of the result, the Gunners skipper admitted the night would have been even better if he had claimed a first career hat-trick.

"I am a bit disappointed because I wanted to do it, it's the thing I haven't done as a professional," Fabregas said.

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