Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Arsenal Already Possess All the Riches They Need; Crisis, What Crisis? Cesc Fabregas Turns to Fire in Arsenal's Second Goal in a Game Which Saw the Rumours of an Imminent Takeover Forgotten

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Arsenal Already Possess All the Riches They Need; Crisis, What Crisis? Cesc Fabregas Turns to Fire in Arsenal's Second Goal in a Game Which Saw the Rumours of an Imminent Takeover Forgotten

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL HART

Arsenal 3 Portsmouth 1

SO, WHO says Arsenal need a huge cash injection? Well, David Dein actually, butthe evidence available at the Emirates Stadium yesterday afternoon suggestedthat Arsene Wenger is coping quite well within the restraints of his currentbudget.

The Arsenal manager insists that investment from outside isn't necessary tosustain success and there was nothing in their comfortable 3-1 win overPortsmouth to indicate that he's got his sums wrong.

Another 60,000 plus crowdeach home game produces revenue in excess of [pounds sterling]3millionwatched Wenger's young team demonstrate a level of skill and resilience that,with average good fortune, will provide the platform for a Premier League titlechallenge this season.

Unbeaten after four matches, yesterday's win lifted Arsenal into second placein the table and sets the scene for a match that traditionally tests nerve andmuscle like few others the north London derby at Tottenham on Saturday week.

What impressed yesterday was the mental strength of a young Arsenal teamreduced to ten men by the dismissal of centre half Phillipe Senderos in the51st minute. The Swiss defender was clumsy rather than malicious, but hebrought down last-man Kanu and Wenger had no complaints.

"If Kanu wasn't offside then the referee had no choice but to send offSenderos," he said.

With Gilberto filling in at centre-back and Cesc Fabregas simply upping hisprodigious work rate, Arsenal ensured that Portsmouth had little opportunity tobenefit from their one-man advantage.

Fabregas was at the heart of Arsenal's game plan, creating at one end of thefield and destroying at the other. In terms of influence, Wenger likened him toManchester United's Paul Scholes.

"He has a lot of the same characteristicsintelligence, passing ability, knowing when to go into the box," he said.

"People forget he's still only 20. He was at his best when we needed him most.We were really tested mentally in the second half and I thought we respondedwell.

"The players have a great togetherness and they fight for each other. I'vesensed this team spirit growing since the beginning of the season. They wereoutstanding at times today." Although guilty of losing possession on a fewoccasions, Fabregas also demonstrated the kind of belief and doggedness thatonce characterised that great Highbury favourite Tony Adams. In the eyes ofArsenal loyalists there can be few higher accolades.

Sat alongside Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp, Adams once ventured towardsthe by line to retrieve the ball and that was enough to produce choruses of"There's only one Tony Adams." The former England defender, now coaching atPortsmouth, must recognise in this Arsenal team many of the qualities that madeWenger's earlier sides so successful. …

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