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Cesc Fàbregas called on his Arsenal FC team-mates to "make history" in their UEFA Champions League semi-final return against Manchester United FC.
Arsenal trail 1-0 after last week's first leg but Fàbregas believes they can surmount that obstacle and, with it, write a new chapter in their club's storybook. Arsène Wenger said he had never heard Old Trafford as loud as it was last week and Fàbregas is hoping Arsenal will return the compliment and make their home advantage count in their biggest game yet at the Arsenal Stadium.
'Most important game'
The Spanish playmaker said: "It is 1-0, we are not talking about 4-0. In the Champions League anything can happen. We know we are very strong at home, we have our fans behind us and they will be amazing I am sure. For most of the players, it will be the most important game of their career and it is the most important match the new stadium has seen. We want to make history here.
"When we play at home it is completely different," he added. "At home you are playing in front of your fans, you know the stadium better, you know the pitch. As a team if we are strong and united, if we stay compact and don't let them play and put pressure on them, I'm sure we have a great chance of going through. We just have to play our game and be confident we can do it because I'm sure we can."
Fàbregas praised the character shown by his team-mates in recovering from an indifferent start to 2008/09 to progress in Europe and embark on a 21-match unbeaten run in the Premier League. "At the beginning of the season it was difficult, we had players we didn't expect to leave [who did] but the team kept going." It is a young Arsenal team, with the average age of the ten outfield players who started the first leg just 23.5 – a far cry from the experienced side featuring the likes of Sol Campbell, Thierry Henry and Robert Pirès in which Fàbregas made his UEFA Champions League debut in autumn 2004. "I was very lucky to start in a very senior team with a lot of big players and that helped me a lot. But even if we are younger, we have the same quality and the same togetherness."
Speaking on his 22nd birthday, Arsenal's young captain explained how he was learning from playing as a second striker in recent matches, although that may change with Robin van Persie's likely return. "I've always faced the goal; looking backwards it is a little more difficult but I am learning a lot." Whatever his role on Tuesday, he will meet the challenge head on – and hope his team-mates do likewise. "
If I hadn't come to Arsenal when I was 16 I probably wouldn't be playing in a Champions League semi-final. I am really grateful for what Arsenal have done for me and it is up to me and the players that were brought here when they were young to achieve things for the club who believed in us and the fans who have supported us. It is up to us to pay them back tomorrow."
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