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Andy Townsend's Boot Room: All the stats, facts, tips and teams for the weekend's matches...

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03 Apr 2010 00:24:05

Andy Townsend's Boot Room: All the stats, facts, tips and teams for the weekend's matches...

Cesc Fabregas might not have had the best game of his career against Barcelona on Wednesday night but he put in a true captain's performance to drag his side back from the brink against the European champions. He barely touched the ball in the first half and was clearly struggling, but he still got himself forward at the crucial moment to win the penalty for Arsenal and then converted it - despite his broken leg. Captain courageous: Cesc Fabregas keeps Arsenal's Champions League hopes alive on Wednesday night It wasn't a performance that will live long in the memory for his quality of ball, but he hung in there and epitomised Arsenal's second half spirit. It was one of the great captain performances. When the team is struggling, it is down to the skipper to pull themthrough. As a captain, you feel that extra responsibility to try tomake something happen when heads are down. My priority when I was captaining teams was my own game but I still had to focus on the rest of the team - to push, to prod, to cajole, to dish out a verbal when needed. You have to organise and keep things going. Think of Roy Keane's superb performance against Juventus 11 years ago, which turned the tie on its head. Like Fabregas on Wednesday, there was no moping around when he picked up the yellow card that meant he would miss the next match. He just got on with it. And I also remember the sight of Ledley King hobbling around Wembley in the Carling Cup final in 2008 against Chelsea, still winning all the crucial headers and tackles despite barely being able to walk when Avram Grant's side were pushing for an equaliser. Who could forget Steven Gerrard's amazing last-gasp strike in the FA Cup final against West Ham in 2006 to force the game into extra time? It's about performing on the really big occasions. MY TOP SKIPPERS BRYAN ROBSON Manchester United ROY KEANE Manchester United FRANCO BARESI AC Milan STEVEN GERRARD Liverpool LOTHAR MATTHAUS Bayern Munich And these guys will make their mark on younger players. When I started at Southampton what a great captain Jimmy Case was. I respected him enormously for what he had done at Liverpool but he was such a great player. He would offer you a subtle word here and there, a confidence boost when you needed it and a certain look sometimes which suggested you needed to liven up a bit. A good captain can make all the difference and that's why Fabregas is such a big loss to Arsenal for the rest of the season. Who is the best club skipper of all time? Give us your views at the bottom of the page The stats, the facts, the tips, the teams...


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