ARSENE WENGER maintains Arsenal must stay focused on securing a “formidable” end to the season rather than worrying about the long-term future of stars like Cesc Fabregas.
The Gunners captain is set to return after four months out with a serious knee injury for the visit of Manchester City today.
Even though the Spain international has been out of action, that has not stopped Barcelona president Joan Laporta once again declaring his wish to one day see the 21-year-old back at the Nou Camp, sparking speculation of a big-money summer transfer swoop for the central midfielder.
Leading scorer Robin van Persie — out today with a groin problem — and England forward Theo Walcott, who returns from a minor knee injury, have yet to have agree new deals with the Emirates Stadium club.
Much has been made of whether Arsenal are able to meet the expectations of their top men with silverware. But as the Gunners, currently fourth in the Barclays Premier League, enter the defining period of the campaign — which includes a Champions League quarter-final with Villarreal and an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley — Wenger has called for the players to keep their attentions firmly fixed on the job in hand.
“Our success depends on how well we focus on short-term and how intelligent we are to rule out all the long-term speculation,” the Arsenal manager said.
“We have answered that question (on Fabregas) for five years now.
“What is important is that a player like Cesc can come back into the squad and help us be successful.
“What is important for us is not who stays in July or who goes, it is how much we focus on the next game. It is how well we deal with that kind of thing inside the club; that is more important than what people say.
“Any distraction would be a weakness from our side and a wrong excuse. We do not want that. We cannot influence what people say, or write or think. We can influence how much success we can achieve together.
“The period which is in front of us can be a formidable human experience for our players, and that is what I want it to be.”
Frontman Emmanuel Adebayor is back in contention following a successful return to action with Togo following a hamstring injury during the international break.
Although Eduardo (groin), Abou Diaby (thigh) and Samir Nasri (virus) are all set to miss out today, Nicklas Bendtner (knee) is expected to be fit.
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