Arsenal will bounce back from Newcastle shocker, says Gunner
We’re still right in the title race, insists Theo Walcott
THEO Walcott is confident that Arsenal will recover from the dramatic 4-4 draw at Newcastle and continue to fight for the Premier League title.
The Gunners have seen their title chances written off by some pundits after they inexplicably allowed the Magpies to fight back from 4-0 behind to claim a point at St James’ Park.
But Walcott, who had put the Gunners in front inside the first minute with his 11th goal of an increasingly impressive season, said that as soon as news of Manchester United’s defeat at Wolves had filtered through to the Arsenal team, they were ready to move on from events at Newcastle.
“Everyone had grins on their faces,” revealed Walcott of the moment Arsenal’s players arrived back from the north east on a flight at Luton Airport on Saturday night to hear United’s unbeaten record was at an end.
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“Suddenly it was a point gained and something we can build on. It changed the mood, the boss’s mood as well.
“It was such a disappointment – when you are 4-0 up and want to win the league, it shouldn’t happen – even if you go down to 10 men. None of us wanted to look the boss in the eye afterwards, that’s for sure.
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“Newcastle did very well, taught us a lesson, albeit with a bit of help from a couple of penalties. But there’s no point sulking on it now. We have the character in the team to recover from that, people who will stand up to be counted.
“There are so many people in our side who will respond in the right way, but even the boss would have gone home thinking it’s a point gained in the end.
“We can build on it, particularly after the first-half performance. That was the best first half I’ve been involved in since I’ve been here. And, really, it is looking good for us. We are only four points behind United and [they] have still got to play Chelsea twice.”
The Gunners may get the chance to make up more ground on the leaders this weekend, when United face derby rivals Manchester City in the early kick-off on Saturday.
Arsenal face Wolves at the Emirates at 3pm, and Arsene Wenger believes they will have recovered and can bounce back from Saturday’s disappointment.
“We want to do well in the next game, and we will focus on that, it is our job,” admitted Wenger. “Time helps, focusing on the next game helps and that’s all we can do. We can take a lot of encouragement from Saturday’s game as well.
“We have played 12 games since January 1 and we have played outstandingly well but to go down to 10 men had a psychological impact and certainly a physical one as well.”
Wenger will be without the suspended Abou Diaby and is sweating on the fitness of Alex Song, who missed the trip north with a thigh complaint, while Johan Djouou went off with a knee problem at Newcastle and is also a doubt.
Djourou was one of five Gunners to pull out of international duty this week, with captain Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Robin van Persie (Holland), Kieran Gibbs (England Under-21s) and Aaron Ramsey (Wales), who is on loan at Cardiff City, following suit.