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Everton slip to third successive defeat

Everton
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Fabregas plays down Denilson rift

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has played down reports of a rift between himself and Denilson after the Brazilian midfielder was quoted questioning his leadership abilities.

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The Gunners are preparing to face Leeds United in their third round FA Cup replay on Wednesday night but Denilson hogged the back pages as he was reported to have questioned Fabregas in an interview before the game.

"Fabregas is the captain but he is not a leader,'' he said in an interview on Brazilian television. ''It's a personality thing and a leader can be young. It's something they are born with.

"We are lacking leadership and we need leadership to go forward. There isn't a leader. I don't see one player as a leader. At Arsenal it's more of a collective team at the moment, everyone is talking - but a leader is always important for a team."

Denilson, 22, also gave his view on the goalkeeping situation at Arsenal and, despite the excellent form of Wojciech Szczesny who is has taken the No. 1 spot in place of the injured Lukasz Fabianski, he believes one goalkeeper stands above the rest.

"The best keeper at Arsenal is Manuel Almunia," he said.

However, Fabregas, on his Twitter account, responded to his team-mate's criticism, claiming there was no rift. He wrote: ''Abt what Deni said. I've been in his situation before, just a misunderstending [sic] . Now lets win tonite!''

Fabregas also attached a picture of the duo as they travelled on the train up to Leeds, both players all smiles and giving the thumbs up.

Denilson later released a statement via Rio-based communications agency 'Fair Play' to clarify that the Arsenal skipper has his full backing.

"Fabregas is a great friend. When I said the team had no leadership it was to point out that Arsenal have a very young squad and sometimes lack a more experienced person, as it had for many years with Gilberto Silva for example,'' Denilson said.

"I am a shy guy, I do not like controversy and problems. I was misquoted. I have talked with Fabregas and everything is resolved. We are fighting for the English title and it will not take away our focus.''

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