No Emirates cat-calls for Cesc

Fabregas could have been forgiven for expecting a frosty reception

as he took to the pitch with the rest of his Gunners team-mates for

an open training session. But there were no jeers for the

24-year-old, despite his apparent desire to quit the club for

Barcelona, although things might have been different had Arsenal

decided upon their usual roll call as the players entered the

field. Heavy rain also forced the club to postpone their official

team photo, which may ultimately spare them being left with one

that includes Fabregas were he to leave. However, both Fabregas and

contract rebel Samir Nasri are understood to have posed for annual

in-house photos and videos on Thursday as well as completing the

usual pre-season pictures for other media outlets. The postponed

team photo, meanwhile, is expected to be taken at Arsenal’s London

Colney training ground before the end of the month. Whether

Fabregas and Nasri end up in it remains to be seen, with the former

the subject of a reported £35million bid from former club

Barca, and the latter said to interest Manchester City and Chelsea.

Arsenal are holding out for more money for Fabregas and there have

been suggestions they could use the threat of playing him in their

upcoming Champions League qualifier as a negotiating tactic. The

midfielder has yet to feature in pre-season due a lack of fitness

and concerns about his commitment, although he could take part in

Saturday’s final friendly at Benfica. Barca continued to woo

Fabregas on Thursday, with the midfielder’s Spain team-mate Andres

Iniesta, telling Sport: “We have said it many times before. We

would be thrilled with his arrival. “We are speaking about one of

the best, but it all depends on the two clubs as well as the

player’s wishes.” While they may be prepared to let Fabregas leave

for the right price, Arsenal insist they have no intention of

selling Nasri, who has refused to extend his contract which expires

next summer. The France star did not train for long on Thursday due

to a minor ankle problem, something which also limited the

participation of Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott. The bad weather

was also one factor behind what was a low turnout of around 3,000

at the Emirates, when a crowd of 10,000 had been expected. Those

who stayed until the end of the session were rewarded with an

address from manager Arsene Wenger, who revealed he was “more

determined” than ever to end the club’s silverware drought. Arsenal

face a tough start to the Barclays Premier League season, with a

trip to Newcastle followed by games against Liverpool and

Manchester United. Wenger said: “We know that but we are ready,

well-prepared and determined to have a strong start. “We’ll give

absolutely everything to do it. “Let’s focus and believe that we

can do it.” He added: “We had a good preparation and, I think, good

team bonding. “Overall, we are very happy and confident. “We feel

we were very, very close last year and we want to do it this year.”

Wenger is still trying to strengthen his squad and is said to have

failed in a bid to sign Valencia winger Juan Mata. Mata’s coach

Unai Emery said on Tuesday night he expected the 23-year-old to

stay at the club. Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has also been

linked with the Gunners but he told L’Equipe: “My place is at this

club. “I have never talked to Mr Wenger or anyone else. I want to

enjoy success here. I have found my self-belief. “This season, I

know we will win titles.”