With friends like these, who needs enemies? At least that is what the Arsenal players and fans hope this will be what our former captain Cesc Fabregas will be thinking after he faces his former club in a Chelsea shirt at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.
Because there are still plenty of familiar faces for the Spanish international midfielder in the Arsenal ranks, but there will not be much friendliness on show once the whistle blows. One Gunner in particular, Mathieu Flamini, is fired up for the encounter, even though the Frenchman has revealed in a Sky Sports report that the two players are still extremely close.
Because of their respective playing positions in the centre of the pitch, Flamini knows that he will be in direct contact with Fabregas during the game and he will certainly not be thinking about their friendship when that happens. I just hope that he can be tough with the new Chelsea man and stop him influencing the game without getting himself sent off.
Flamini said, “We are really close friends. It is a special game for me to play against him.
“I stay in touch with him all the time. We live next to each other.
“He is someone I really appreciate on the pitch, not just because he is a good player, but he is a top guy off the pitch as well.
“Football is our lives, but also we have a life outside the pitch also.
“He shows the right mentality and works for the team. He is certainly going to be one of the (Chelsea) players to be careful about on Sunday.
“When we were together here, we had a great partnership on the pitch. He was more offensive and I was more defensive, working hard for him.
“The difference on Sunday is that I will probably mark him and that will not be easy – first of all because he is a good player, but also because he is a friend.
“Now after going to Italy, I have learned a lot tactically and obviously gained experience, so I am trying to play more with my head and more quality.”
Stopping or curbing the creative talents of Fabregas is clearly important to the Arsenal cause, but they have plenty of dangerous players in their side. The one that Arsene Wenger is most concerned about, according to another Sky Sports report, is their new striker Diego Costa.
If Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker can keep Costa quiet, then the Gunners have a great chance, but can they do it? And who will win the midfield battle?