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Arsenal FC captain Cesc Fàbregas is confident that his team will bounce back immediately from their 1-0 Saturday defeat at Sunderland AFC when they look to secure progress from UEFA Champions League Group H at home against R. Standard de Liège on Tuesday.
The reverse at the Stadium of Light ended a 13-game unbeaten run for Arsenal in all competitions and was also the first time in 20 matches this season that they have failed to score. However, they can get back on track against Standard knowing a point would take them through and a win would clinch first place. "We were not at our best against Sunderland," Fàbregas said. "We played well in the first half but we didn't take our chances and, maybe because a lot of us were returning from international matches, we were a bit tired at the end. It's always difficult to play away from home after so many hours of flight. We now have to pick ourselves up."
Fàbregas has made a significant contribution to the team's prolific form prior to the Sunderland trip, scoring nine goals and providing a dozen assists. Three of those goals came in the Gunners' last two UEFA Champions League matches – both against AZ Alkmaar – and the 22-year-old will be hoping to continue his run against the Belgian titleholders, who they beat 3-2 in a dramatic September trip.
"It will be difficult against Standard," he said. "We were two goals down very early on in the first match in Belgium and it was difficult to get back into the game. They mark tightly and have tricky players who are good on the ball. We were surprised at how good they were when we played them, but we have not been surprised by how well they have done in the games since then."
The former FC Barcelona trainee will again be charged with leading his team-mates to victory, having been appointed captain last term, and he explained that he is enjoying the extra responsibility. "I have learnt a lot since I was named captain," he said. "At the beginning it was a bit difficult, but I feel more capable than a year ago. I know my responsibility, my job and I feel everyone is helping and supporting me. I'm looking forward to a great season with Arsenal. I have played some finals and challenged for the Premier League and I am really happy with the way the club is focused on winning trophies. I'm sure we can do it this season."
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