Everton clash is crucial to Arsenal’s season, says Gunners star
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Wojciech Szczesny has acknowledged that Arsenal’s crunch clash with Everton this weekend could define the rest of their season.
The Gunners head to Goodison Park on Sunday knowing that an Everton win would put them under immense pressure to maintain a top four spot in the Premier League.
However, if Szczesny and his team-mates can secure the three points on offer, they would be well-placed to hold off the Merseysiders’ challenge for next season’s Champions League qualifiers.
Just as importantly, it would put Arsenal in the right frame of mind ahead of a match they must win to keep alive their hopes of silverware – the FA Cup semi-final against holders Wigan Athletic on April 12.
“Before such a big game [Wigan], we want to get a good result and have our confidence back on the level it has been for most of the season,” said the Gunners goalkeeper.
“We’ve got a lot to play for – we’re still in the FA Cup and we’re in a decent position in the league, so we’ll be on our toes and do our best to win every single game.
“You always look over your shoulders, but you also look in front of you and check the results – that’s natural. But I’m confident we can have a very good run-in.
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“If we can beat Everton, who are probably the first team to challenge us for the top four, then that would be a massive confidence boost and put us in a strong position. So it’s very important for us.”
Everton narrowed the gap between themselves and the Gunners to four points with a game in hand after completing their fifth straight victory in the league as they won 3-1 at bottom club Fulham.
Although Arsenal chalked up their third game without a win the previous day, drawing 1-1 at home to Manchester City, that point might yet prove to be invaluable in the fight for Champions League places.
Saturday’s performance represented a significant improvement on those two previous fixtures – a 6-0 thrashing at Chelsea and a 2-2 draw at home to Swansea – and Szczesny feels it should be viewed as ‘half a positive result’.
“Losing 6-0 was embarrassing for players representing this club, and you want to prove to yourself and everyone else that you’re better than that,” said the Polish international.
“We’ve not had a great time over the last couple of games and then going behind against one of the best sides in the country – one of the best sides in Europe – our heads could have gone down.
“But we kept going, we came out really strong in the second half and dominated the game. The fans got behind us as well – they could see we really put in the effort to come back into the game.
“They saw a positive response from us and they reacted to that. It was half a positive result and I think we owed it to the manager, the fans and everyone at the club.”