‘Arsenal have to make not conceding goals an obsession to become winners’

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AS ANYONE who played alongside me would tell you, there was nothing I hated more than conceding goals. Well, apart from losing, but even then it was the goals we conceded that angered me the most.

In my years at Arsenal we just developed this mentality, throughout the whole team, that we did not want to concede goals, ever. Not when we were winning 4-0 or losing 4-0.

It can become a habit, and it is a habit I have felt for a while that this crop of Arsenal players had developed. Like when Eduardo scored for Shakhtar the other week when Arsenal were 5-0 up. It doesn’t matter, said one fan afterwards. Wrong. It always matters.

No winning team ever gives cheap goals away, it just doesn’t go with the territory of being at the top. And I liked the look of Arsenal defenders and Lukasz Fabianski throwing themselves in front of shots even when they were 3-0 up at Man City the other week. That is the kind of spirit you need if you are going to win things.

The whole team has to care about not letting goals in, and then clean sheets can become a habit too. When you do that, then even if you are struggling to win a game like Arsenal were on Saturday against West Ham, you know one goal will do it. That said, I don’t think modern Arsenal fans are too used to 1-0 wins!

The points are what is important though and it was so vital Arsenal kept up their momentum in the league after winning so well at City.

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Chelsea are five points ahead though and that is a position every club would rather be in. They know they can afford to lose or draw and still be top.

Arsenal have two Premier League games in the space of five days now, and they will go into them thinking of taking six points, no question.

Newcastle are flying at the moment after their win on Sunday and will come down full of confidence, while Wolves have also just beaten Man City and are not easy to beat at Molineux. That will be a test.

Arsenal look tougher this season though and that’s one major change from the last couple of years. Let’s hope they keep it up.

Another thing that has changed is that Arsene Wenger seems to be taking the Carling Cup seriously, and I am so glad to see that.

I have felt for a long time now that this group of players just need to get their hands on a trophy, and they should be going for all of them. And for the supporters too, if you go up to Newcastle on a Wednesday night, that is what you want to see, a great win not a weakened team going out.

Wigan at home gives them a good chance of reaching the last four. It’s good to keep all options open.