Arsenal star admits: Only we can stop Manchester United now
Goal hero Koscielny feels the Premier League title is now a two-horse race
LAURENT Koscielny headed Arsenal to victory against Everton and then declared: ‘We are the only team who can stop Manchester United winning the title’.
Koscielny’s 75th-minute winner kept the Gunners in second place in the Premier League table, five points behind unbeaten leaders United.
But while Chelsea followed up their �76m spending spree on Monday with a 4-2 win at Sunderland, they still trail United by 10 points and French defender Koscielny feels Arsenal are the main challengers to Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
“It looks like we are the last contenders,” admitted Koscielny. “They are already five points ahead of us and they are more points ahead of Chelsea, Manchester City and the others.
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“Those teams can come back strong as well but we look like we could challenge United. We have just to keep focused on our games and not look too much at theirs.
“We have to stay focused and keep working together – that is the key because if we don’t concede goals, we will always have an opportunity to score ourselves. Between now and the end of the season, it’s going to be a big fight, a big battle between us and United and hopefully they will drop points.”
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Koscielny added that he feels Arsenal have grown in strength and belief as the season has gone on, and that was evident in the way they battled to come from behind to beat Everton.
“We showed great character and at the start of the season in a game like that maybe we wouldn’t have won it,” added the 25-year-old.
“But now, for the last two months you have seen we have a great team spirit and there is a big togetherness. We are all pulling the same way and that’s how we won this game.
“In the last few months, we have been much more consistent on every level – defending and attacking together. At the start of the season, we were doing it but maybe not for the whole 90 minutes. Now we have learned to do it, we have got a great team spirit to do it all together from start to finish. That is what is making the difference.”
Koscielny also defended Arsene Wenger’s decision not to invest in extra defensive cover as the transfer window closed on Monday, leaving the Gunners with just three fit centre-halves.
Koscielny and Johan Djourou are the first-choice pair in the continued absence of Thomas Vermaelen, with Sebastien Squillaci, who was suspended on Tuesday after his red card against Huddersfield on Sunday, the only other option.
“We have shown in the last few games that we are defending much better – there have been a lot of clean sheets, not against Everton but in the last four league games before that,” pointed out Koscielny.
“We have four great central defenders – Squillaci is going to come back soon, hopefully Thomas Vermaelen as well – and we showed that we defend well together and that’s why the boss is keeping faith with us by not recruiting another centre-half.
“We have got a big enough squad to play in four competitions. We are in the final of the Carling Cup which is really exciting and I believe we can do really well this season.”
Meanwhile Arsenal played down suggestions from Everton manager David Moyes that Cesc Fabregas should have been sent off for abusing match officials at half-time, following referee Lee Mason’s controversial decision to allow Louis Saha’s goal.
“He didn’t speak to the referee, I spoke to the referee, you can check,” said Wenger.