April 18, 2021

‘Arsenal must win ugly until they land top players’ – Fabregas backs Arteta to eventually emulate Guardiola

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The former Gunners captain believes those at Emirates Stadium need to master the art of grinding out results while they freshen up their squad

Cesc Fabregas has called on Arsenal to master the art of winning ugly, with Mikel Arteta still lacking the “top players” required to emulate the brand of football played by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

Fabregas says that is the ultimate goal for the highly-rated coach who spent three years working as assistant to the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss at the Etihad Stadium.

The Gunners remain a work in progress – an eighth-place Premier League finish in 2019-20 proving as much.

Arsenal are, however, through to the FA Cup final and can bring the curtain down on their campaign in style with major silverware and qualification for the Europa League.

A meeting with Chelsea at Wembley Stadium promises to deliver another stern test of their credentials, with Arteta’s side needing to plug defensive leaks and rekindle their attacking spark.

Fabregas is looking for Arteta to ensure that the Gunners have more than a Plan A, with it important for them to remain competitive as they work on bringing fresh faces into their ranks.

The former Arsenal captain told The Sun: “I hope he does it. I don’t really know Mikel that well. He has his style, but I don’t think it is one to win ugly.

“Pep has a team that costs God knows how many millions. Mikel doesn’t have that.

“When you want to compete at the top, playing a certain style with positive, possession and attacking football, you need top, top players. Pep has them. Mikel is not there yet. Probably in the future he will be. He has taught the players in a short period of time how he wants to do it.

“You see that some have improved a lot for doing that. Now let’s see if he can transform that into titles.”

Fabregas believes Arsenal should be taking a page out of Chelsea’s book when it comes to chasing down honours, with the World Cup winner having experienced life in north and west London across two spells in English football.

The Spaniard said of his time at Stamford Bridge: “The difference I felt straightaway is that we were ruthless. At Arsenal and it was maybe my fault at some point as the captain that I was, I loved the beautiful game. I was not very experienced like I was when I went back to Chelsea.

“I always liked to have the ball and demand the ball in difficult areas, even when winning 1-0 and playing for the league, you still want to do the same thing, because you are young and, in this case, a bit stupid in certain  situations.

“Every player felt the same, that this was the only way to win. Sometimes we forgot that to win leagues, you need to win ugly. There are always five or six games a season where you struggle but win.

“At Chelsea, we did that. We were very competitive and very experienced. That’s the main difference. In terms of talent, at Arsenal there were fantastic players, but at Chelsea, we didn’t really care if one day we won 1-0 without touching the ball for the whole match.

“It’s just maybe the way we competed was different. You don’t really know why or how.

“I would not forgive myself if I never won the Premier League. Winning that first Premier League, I remember when the referee whistled at the end, going on my knees, lifting my two arms up, looking at the sky.”