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Sep 17, 2010

Fabregas demands consistency from Arsenal

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has warned his team-mates their flying start to the season will mean nothing if they drop away as they have done in previous seasons.

• Sunderland v Arsenal preview
• Kevin Keegan column
• Forum: Weekend predictions

Arsenal have won three from four in the Premier League, scoring 13 goals in the process, and World Cup winner Fabregas netted a brace as Champions League newcomers Braga were swept aside 6-0 at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.

But Fabregas is not "reading too much" into his team's form because they've always been able to produce glittering football in bursts. Consistency across a longer period is what has undermined Arsenal's pursuit of silverware in recent years and that's what Fabregas is demanding this time around.

Arsenal next face a trip to Sunderland, where they lost 1-0 last November, on Saturday and for Fabregas the match represents a chance for the Gunners to prove they can keep their run going against the sort of opponent they must beat to become Premier League contenders.

"I am not going to read too much into our beating both Blackburn and Bolton - in previous years we might have done the same thing before collapsing against the big sides, so it's best that we just keep going, keep improving and keep making things difficult for whoever we face,'' Fabregas said.

"On Saturday, that will be Sunderland, which is always a very difficult place to go. Last season we didn't do well at the Stadium of Light, but it was straight after an international break and we were perhaps a bit tired, so we hope for better this time. We are happy with 10 points from four Premier League games. We would have preferred 12, but we are up there, we are second, and now we need to guard against losing more points because we will need everything we can get at the end of the season.''

Left-back Gael Clichy, who echoed his skipper's comments, maintains this time the Gunners must show their true championship credentials.

"We know how difficult the Premier League is so we have to recover quick because we know Saturday will be a battle,'' he said. "They are good at home and we just want to show that we can perform week in week out.''

Midfielder Abou Diaby is set for a spell on the sidelines, having been ruled out by a tackle from Bolton's Paul Robinson, which went unpunished by referee Stuart Attwell, and centre-half Thomas Vermaelen will also not return at Sunderland on Saturday because of an Achilles problem. Both, though, could be back against West Brom.

With Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott still out because of their ankle problems, Marouane Chamakh will again lead the line. The Moroccan striker, a free transfer from Bordeaux during the summer, has impressed during his first few appearances, scoring his third goal against Braga.

"For me, this is a great start to my debut season - four league games and three victories, with a group that it is a pleasure to be part of,'' Chamakh said. "Everything is going very well so far.''

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