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Wenger: Fabregas key to Gunners' success

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he cannot afford to lose Cesc Fabregas to injury if his side are to maintain their title challenge.

The Gunners captain was inspirational as he scored one and had a hand in the second for substitute Fran Merida in the 2-0 victory over Bolton at the Reebok Stadium.

Having missed the last three matches with a hamstring injury, the Spain international showed just how valuable he is to Arsenal, who moved to within three points of Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea - with Bolton again to come at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

"It is important for us not to lose any more players, especially him. He is just coming back now," said Wenger.

"We survived okay when he was not there but, in the period coming up, when we have so many big games, it is important to have him.

"If you watched the game, it is difficult to say how much we have missed him but you don't need to explain to anyone that it is important."

Asked if Fabregas was the best midfielder currently playing in the Premier League, Wenger added: "I do not see all the games but what is very interesting for us is Cesc gets stronger and stronger and has more personality on the pitch, like the whole team.

"He grows. He will be 23 this year - he is just starting."

Bolton manager Owen Coyle, in his first match in charge since leaving Burnley, could only marvel at the talent of the Gunners' captain.

"The quality of Fabregas, with the first goal when he bounced a one-two off Eduardo, he could play for anyone in world football," said Coyle. "He is such a top player."

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