Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says that he regrets Cesc Fabregas’s departure from the club ahead of Sunday’s north London reunion with the Chelsea midfielder.

Fabregas left the Gunners to rejoin his boyhood club, Barcelona, back in 2011 but has since returned to England, signing for Chelsea in the summer after Wenger decided against activating a buy-back option available to him.

The 27-year-old has played a significant role in Chelsea’s march towards the title and, while Wenger admits that he regrets having seen him leave the north Londoners, he has called on Gunners fans to respect their former captain when he returns to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

He told reporters: “The regret I have is that he wanted to leave here. This club and myself had a very positive influence on Cesc’s life.

“I want every player to be respected and [I want] Cesc Fabregas, when he comes to the Emirates on Sunday, to be respected like he deserves.”

Wenger was also asked about his relationship with Mourinho. He said: “I don’t know and I don’t want to talk about that because what is important is, when the game starts at four o’clock, to have a great game.

“That’s what English football needs, to know that Arsenal against Chelsea is a big game and is not about the relationship between the managers.”

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