Wenger appreciates chilled-out Cesc

BY foxsports • March 29, 2010

The 22-year-old Arsenal midfielder has scored 18 goals in all competitions this season and is averaging one goal every two games. If he hits the net three more times, the Spaniard will have equalled his combined tally for past three campaigns. The midfielder is hoping to shake off a knee injury to play against his former club in the Champions League quarter-finals but boss Wenger believes his scoring form has been the result of a calmness in front of goal and more physical power. "I believe he is more relaxed," said Wenger. "There is less tension in his finishing. You feel that before he wanted to force the chance and now he is more relaxed. "Also he has gained more physical power. You can see he resists much more the runs of his opponents and he is more powerful in his runs. These two ingredients make a big difference. "Also I believe the change in formation has had an impact as well. He has more freedom to join in now." But it was his perceptive passing and not his eye for goal which first attracted Wenger to the player. Back in 2003, the Arsenal manager travelled to Finland for the Under-17s World Cup in order to run the rule over, among others, a blossoming young midfielder in the Spanish team. Fabregas had Barcelona in his blood and was rising rapidly through the ranks at the Nou Camp alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique. Fabregas won the Golden Boot as top scorer and was voted Player of the Tournament for his overall contribution and 12 days after losing to Brazil in the final, the youngster signed for Arsenal. "I couldn't go to watch a youth team game at Barcelona because they would not have welcomed me," explained Wenger. "So I could only watch him in the Under-17 national team. "You could see straight away that his vision of the game was exceptional. He was physically a little bit weak at the time but he could score goals. "I do not know if there were other teams in for him. We were just first and players want to join us because they feel they have a chance to play. Many young players want to join us because of that." There is certainly a similarity between Arsenal and Barca in terms of both their free-flowing football and the use of the youth system. Xavi Hernandez, Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol have all come through the Nou Camp youth ranks while Fabregas, Alex Song and Gael Clichy have done the same at Arsenal. While much will be made of Thierry Henry's return to north London, Wenger believes that the nurturing of young talent gives the clubs another shared identity. "There are similarities there in the way we play, the way we educate young players, the way we rely on young players and in the sense of belonging to the club," added Wenger. "I believe that we want the players to have that because it is an important part in the way we see football and I believe Barcelona has that as well." Meanwhile, Wenger claims Wednesday night's clash with Barcelona will complete an "unbelievable" turnaround in the fortunes of Sol Campbell. The 35-year-old former England defender ended his first spell at Arsenal with a Champions League Final goal against the Catalan giants in 2006. But by the start of this season Campbell's career had dipped to the extent that he joined League Two club Notts County. But after one appearance against Morecambe, Campbell is now preparing to face the most admired club side in the world. Wenger put his faith in the centre-back when he re-signed him in January but even he is surprised by the change in Campbell's fortunes. "It is unbelievable," said Wenger. "He played at Notts County six months ago. That he can turn up and play against Barcelona is quite amazing."