Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has warned Barclays Premier League title rivals Manchester City they cannot just buy the spirit of champions.
The Gunners will head to Eastlands for Sunday’s televised showdown with confidence restored after victory over Birmingham was followed up by a 5-1 Champions League demolition of Shakhtar Donetsk at the Emirates Stadium.
City are currently just two points behind leaders Chelsea as Roberto Mancini’s unprecedented spending spree appears to be paying dividends.
However, Fabregas insists building up a side capable of challenging for honours is not only about cold, hard cash.
“Everyone chooses their own politics and everyone decides how to win,” said Fabregas, who scored from the penalty spot against Shakhtar in his first appearance since mid-September because of a hamstring injury.
“They have a lot of money. They are taking advantage of it, and that’s it.
“It is not our style, but we respect everyone’s decision.”
Fabregas maintained: “You cannot buy the spirit in one year.
“You need a few years to get everyone together and to get to know each other well, and it’s not easy. You don’t make a team in one season or two.
“But, of course, they are in a very good position.
“They have all the ingredients to become a great club and we have to fight hard against them.
“We have our style, we have the football we want to play and we want to try to win every game like this, whether it is against the richest club in the world or the poorest.”
Czech winger Tomas Rosicky feels Arsenal must now show their “clinical” side in the Premier League having taken every opportunity which came their way against Donetsk – the opening goal a gift following a blunder by goalkeeper Andrei Pyatov.
Much of the Gunners’ attacking threat was channelled through Fabregas and Jack Wilshere.
The 18-year-old – sent off for a studs-up challenge on Birmingham striker Nikola Zigic at the weekend – made headlines for the right reasons again with an all-action display which was capped by a well-taken second-half goal.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger believes the duo can develop a formidable partnership at the heart of his young side.
World Cup winner Fabregas, 23, believes Wilshere can only get better – given the right support.
“We are trying to help him and he is developing really well, but let’s not put too much pressure on him,” said Fabregas, who holds the record as Arsenal’s youngest first-team player when aged 16 years 177 days in a League Cup tie against Rotherham during October 2003.
“Jack is just 18. He knows he was wrong, but sometimes these things happen.
“I remember being sent off at Everton for violent conduct against Tim Cahill when I was only 18. You learn from it.”
Wilshere will serve a three-match ban for his red card, so Abou Diaby and Denilson are in contention to come into the starting XI against City.
Theo Walcott – out since injuring his ankle when playing for England in Switzerland on September 7 – looked lively in his 20-minute cameo off the bench last night and could feature again on Sunday.
Midfielder Alex Song feels the impending return of Arsenal’s key men will make an impact.
“We showed again when Cesc is in the team we are stronger,” he said.
“We want all our players back. We need Robin [van Persie], Thomas [Vermaelen] – and when everyone is back in the squad, we will be even stronger.”
Arsenal, meanwhile, will hold their annual general meeting at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke is again expected to attend, with both Wenger and other members of the board set to field pre-submitted questions from the floor.
Last month, the club’s parent holding company announced record pre-tax profits of £56million and increased group turnover of £379.9m, while also seeing all the debt on their Highbury Square development paid off.