ARSENAL (6) vs BRAGA (0)
ARSENAL boss Arsene Wenger singled out Cesc Fabregas for praise after his captain orchestrated a Champions League demolition of Braga, scoring twice and setting up two more in a victory of embarrassing ease.
Substitute Carlos Vela had time to register a brace of his own, while Andrei Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh added to the visitors’ humiliation as the Gunners racked up picturesque goal after picturesque goal.
Fabregas launched the drubbing with a penalty before adding a header after the break in a commanding performance that dispelled any doubts that his commitment might have been dented by his manager’s refusal to let him join Barcelona.
“Cesc is a fantastic influence and it’s important that he leads this team to winning,” said Wenger. “I believe as well that the playing alongside him is a fantastic opportunity for young players to improve.
“I like as well that he gave the ball to Vela instead of trying alone [for his hat-trick]. That reflects the way we want to play the game and also the real attitude of a leader; he does what the game wants and is not selfish.
“He loves this club, people doubted that, but I never doubted that. He arrived here at the age of 16 and he enjoys the way we play. What do you want more, to be happy?”
A fourth straight victory took Arsenal’s tally to 16 goals in three home games, although the value of this win was tempered by Braga’s ineptitude. The Gunners still looked vulnerable at times and better opponents might have capitalised.
The rout began when, in the eighth minute, goalkeeper Felipe took Chamakh’s legs and Fabregas confidently slotted home from the spot.
The Spaniard’s jink and threaded pass then allowed Arshavin to toe-poke the second on the half-hour.
In truth, the match resembled a training ground exercise, none more so than when Wilshere capped a ludicrous move by backheeling for Chamakh to finish. An unmarked Fabregas nodded the fourth soon after the interval from an Arshavin cross, and the Russian’s through-ball set up Vela to net a cool finish.
Fittingly Fabregas fed the Mexican to cap a thumping win with a side-footed finish with five minutes to go.