Wenger being patient with Fab

Fabregas has been hampered by a hamstring problem since his return

to first-team action after the World Cup final. Indeed, the Gunners

skipper admitted the issue had been playing on his mind and did not

allow for his usual free-flowing game. Wenger – whose side could

book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League against

Braga on Tuesday – is wary of playing his talisman too much, but

believes the injury will soon no longer be of concern. “It is

getting better,” said Wenger. “He was out for a while and had a

recurrence of his hamstring problem, then it gets in your head.

“When it gets in your head, it is difficult to play free of your

mind. “I feel it is getting better in every match, from game to

game he becomes stronger. “On Saturday against Tottenham, he has

created three great goal chances, so we are getting back to the

normal Cesc.” Wenger revealed: “Sometimes after the game he has a

little recurrence, but at the moment I do not want to take a

massive gamble. “We cannot afford to lose him, so I check every

morning of the game how he is and we monitor him quite well, but it

is on the way up.” Wenger elected to leave both Russian winger

Andrey Arshavin and Holland forward Robin van Persie behind when

the squad headed out to Portugal this afternoon, while defender

Gael Clichy had a minor back complaint. Van Persie has made a

couple of substitute appearances since returning from an ankle

injury sustained at the end of August, but lacks match-sharpness.

Wenger believes the Dutchman’s recovery is better served working

hard at the club’s Hertfordshire training base than by just warming

the bench again. “It is to improve his fitness,” Wenger revealed.

“Robin is back in the squad but is not 100% fit at the moment. “He

is not in a condition physically to fight in the top-level games,

so I take advantage of that to make him work very hard.” Wenger

maintained: “I feel that is what he needs at the moment, “If I go

to Braga with him and put him on when he is not 100% on the bench

and does not come on, it is a waste of time for three days.”