Cesc: Second is not good enough

CAPTAIN Cesc Fabregas believes Arsenal need to make a decision on whether they want to be a club that looks to develop young players or one that wins trophies.

The Gunners have built a well-earned reputation as a hugely attractive passing side packed with up-and-coming talent, but once again it appears as though Arsene Wenger’s side will not be able to translate that into silverware this season.

Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool last weekend seriously dented their chances of winning the Barclays Premier League title, leaving them six points behind Manchester United with only six games remaining.

United’s scoreless draw at Newcastle means Arsenal can close the gap to four points if they can beat Tottenham in tonight’s north London derby at White Hart Lane

But if Arsenal finish this season empty-handed that would leave them without a trophy since winning the FA Cup in 2005, and Fabregas believes the club need to look at their overall direction.

He told Spanish magazine Don Balon: “From 2007 I had already started saying ‘we’re not winning, but we’re playing well’. And then you realise that’s no use.

“You enjoy yourself, during a phase of the championship — like this year, for example, when we were still in four different competitions. And you say to yourself ‘here I have everything!’ But that final point is missing and it’s then you have to make a decision: either go out and win or develop players.”

Fabregas was also asked why Wenger was not under more pressure following Arsenal’s lack of trophies.

“It’s different here,” the Spain midfielder added. “The coach is an intelligent person and the club value other things — that the team is always in the Champions League, that they fight until the end, bring through young players, economic stability.

“I guess that for the board that is important. Although I imagine there will be a moment when you have to take the plunge... either you win or you don’t win.”

Fabregas also believes his side are lacking a few important ingredients to challenge the domination that Manchester United and Chelsea have enjoyed over recent seasons.

“It’s difficult. For me it’s more a lack of a winning mentality, also of maturity in key moments,” he said.

“We have plenty of quality but lack this bit of confidence. The problem is that the team needs to win something. That’s why it was so important to win the Carling Cup,” he added.

“We needed this cup to be able to believe in ourselves as a team. (Robin) Van Persie has won an FA Cup as I have, but there’s no more.

“Nobody in the team has won anything. We are missing that ability to say: ‘Now I know what it is to win and I know what it takes to win’.’’

Fabregas also spoke about his own future. He has previously admitted his ambition to one day return to Barcelona to play for the senior team and last summer the Catalan giants had a £35 million (€39.8m) offer turned down for the playmaker.

The 23-year-old said of his future: “You have to have patience with things and wait for the right moment.

“The day that I leave Arsenal I will do it with my head, not just because.

“As well as that, who can be sure that you are going to play in a new team? Here I have the great fortune that at a personal level, despite not having won much, I’m doing very well.

“I spoke with (Barcelona captain Carles) Puyol and he told me that at 26, he hadn’t won anything. Puyol, who has won everything in the football world! Patience and hard work are the most important things in life.”

Meanwhile Robin van Persie has warned Arsenal cannot afford any more “criminal” lapses in concentration if they are to beat arch-rivals Tottenham at White Hart Lane tonight and keep alive hopes of catching leaders Manchester United.

The Gunners missed a golden chance to close the gap down to four points when Van Persie slotted home a penalty deep into eight minutes of stoppage time against Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on Sunday — only for the Reds to go up the other end and equalise with a spot-kick of their own from Dirk Kuyt after Emmanuel Eboue had pushed over Lucas.

Arsenal have made throwing away winning positions something of a habit this season, coasting 2-0 at half-time of their home clash against Spurs in November only to lose and then failing to see out victory at Newcastle despite having raced into a 4-0 lead inside 26 minutes before caving into a Toon Army onslaught.

Van Persie insists that alarming trait must be eradicated if the Gunners are to stay in touch with United ahead of their May 1 showdown at Emirates Stadium.

“This has happened too often, in my opinion,” Van Persie said.

“If you look at our history, when we are in front, when we are safe, when we have the three points in our pocket, we do concede goals.

“We have to stay positive, but we really have to look at it because it is almost criminal to give away points like that.”

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