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Fabregas wants a slice of Milan glory

Cesc Fabregas believes Arsenal FC's winning mentality will help them bounce back from a heavy weekend defeat as they face an AC Milan XI he greatly admires.

Theo Walcott and William Gallas tussle in training
Theo Walcott and William Gallas tussle in training ©Getty Images

Cesc Fabregas believes Arsenal FC can establish a lasting legacy on the European stage and, ahead of the first knockout round visit of AC Milan, he paid tribute to the European champions he hopes to emulate, saying "we want to be like them".

Domestic success
Arsenal have enjoyed considerable success on the domestic front since Arsène Wenger's arrival in September 1996, but despite them competing in the UEFA Champions League for ten consecutive seasons and reaching the final in 2006, ultimate glory still eludes them. Conversely, Milan's European record is only bettered by Real Madrid CF, and although confident of lowering the Rossoneri colours on Wednesday, Fabregas is keen to take a leaf out of the Italian team's book at the same time.

Stepping stone
"We are not scared of anything," he said. "But we respect them a lot because they are a great side with great players, who have won nearly everything. We want to be like them one day in the future. So we need to start from the beginning and this is one of those days to show we are ready for a big future."

Midfield 'key'
If Arsenal are to follow in the footsteps of the seven-time winners, they must overcome a club who have contested three UEFA Champions League finals in five years, and Fabregas predicts the battle will be won in his area of the pitch. "I think the key will be in midfield," said the 20-year-old Spanish international. "They have excellent players – very experienced, strong and intelligent. They work very hard for each other and they have been together for a long time.

Pirlo praise
"I really like [Andrea] Pirlo. I think he is a great player, very intelligent and a great passer. He is always looking for the best solution. Kaká had a great year last year. They have strong players like [Gennaro] Gattuso and [Clarence] Seedorf who work well for the team. It is definitely one of the best midfields in Europe but we need to play our game and focus on our strengths."

One of those strengths, Fabregas argues, is the ability to bounce back from heavy defeats. Arsenal were humbled 4-0 by Manchester United FC in the FA Cup on Saturday but he is convinced the Gunners will respond to that reverse, as they did the 5-1 League Cup semi-final loss to Tottenham Hotspur FC which triggered a four-match winning sequence. "After the Spurs game, we won every game because we realised that if we played like that again we will go nowhere. And now that's what we have to do again," he continued.

Winning mentality
"We know our mental strength, we know we are winners. We want to come back strong and we will not give up until the last second of the tie. Teams who are champions come back stronger from defeat and that's what we will try to do. I've been in this side for five years and it is a winning side. We have a winning coach, a winning team, a winning captain and we want to achieve things. We have to be careful of their experience but we have beaten teams like them before, like Juventus and Real Madrid. We must be aware because with their experience they can kill you in a second. But we know we can do it. Everybody's ready for it."