Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas admitted that his side is gripped with a fear of defeat when playing the big teams.

In recent years, the Gunners have a poor record against the top sides in the Premier League, losing their last four league games against current champions Chelsea and recording just one win in their last 10 games against Manchester United. They continued that unwanted record with a 1-0 loss at OId Trafford last weekend.

Fabregas now claims that Arsenal were ''scared'' of losing at Old Trafford.

They (United) were more aggressive than us, he said. They have the belief that comes from not losing at all (in the league) this season. That gives you a lot of help mentally.

''I'm realizing more and more that football is all about confidence and mentality. Sometimes you do the right thing but, if people tell you it's not right, you start believing it, even though you were right at first.

I think the difference on the night was that we were scared of losing but they were not scared of winning. That was a big difference that played in our heads. Sometimes we seem scared of losing these big games - we don't really go for it and we're tempted to drop back and see what the opposition do.

''We look to see if we are capable of beating them by what they are doing and how good they are on the day, instead of us going forward, causing them problems and dominating the game ourselves.

Despite the loss Arsenal are still just two points behind United, who lead the table and the Gunner's boss Arsene Wenger believes the title race is unpredictable.

This championship remains very open,'' he said. ''Don't forget that we have played at United, at City, at Chelsea and at Liverpool, so we are in a strong position. Now the rest of the season will be decided on how much we've learned, how much we improve and how much confidence we can take from our performances so far.

Arsenal are to meet Chelsea on December 27.