Arsenal Legend Winterburn Speaks Out Over Cesc Fabregas Spat

Former Gunners full back Nigel Winterburn believes that verdicts cannot be made about the Fabregas and Horton affair just yet, but was keen to add that Arsenal have a great chance of reaching a final...

Arsenal could be just two games away from remedying their four-year trophy drought should they go on to beat Chelsea at Wembley in the semi-final of the FA Cup, before returning for the tournament's climax in May to march to a similar result against either Everton, or Manchester United.

However, talk of the match has been dominated by the alleged post-final whistle off-pitch spitting incident, where Hull City manager Phil Brown claimed, in numerous interviews after the game, that Fabregas spat at his assistant - Brian Horton - in the Emirates tunnel.

Former Gunners full back Nigel Winterburn believes Arsenal have been granted a great shot at booking a final date, and the chance to lift some much-needed and highly-craved silverware, but is also keen to stress that he cannot condone the notorious spat, if true.

"I was at the Emirates doing some commentary on Tuesday night and there was certainly a lot going on at the end of the game - which made up for the dreadful first hour or so," he wrote in his column for the Islington Gazette.

"It's hard to know exactly what went on with Cesc Fabregas, Brian Horton, and Phil Brown, but it was fairly evident something had happened on the pitch and down the tunnel after the game.

"That's to be expected after a big decision went against Hull that they could say cost them the game and the chance of going to Wembley. For me that decision wasn't as cut and dried as it first looked - if the ball came off the keeper then William Gallas might well have been onside.

"The sheer frustration obviously got to Brown afterwards, and if Cesc Fabregas was guilty of spitting there was no excuse for that, but at the moment you can't really make a judgment on that as it's not clear if it happened."

Regarding the change in Arsenal's fortunes, though, he added, "When the dust had settled you have to say it's been an amazing couple of weeks for Arsenal and now there is really a chance they can turn this into a positive season for the club after all.

"They are back in fourth place sooner than they ever could have hoped, and now they have to knuckle down and make sure they stay there, and can also think about getting to a final and winning something.

"They certainly have a great chance of doing that now, although Chelsea will be tough in the semi-final - I just hope the two sides aren't also drawn together in the Champions League draw tomorrow."

He warned, "That would be a disastrous draw in my eyes, and while Porto or Villarreal look the easiest options left, I don't think any of those sides are going to be easy to beat over two legs."

Winterburn won just two caps for England despite being a key component of Arsenal's exalted back four of the late 80's and 90's.

Alan Dawson,