Sunday 17 December 2017

Gunners eager to make early statement

PER Mertesacker has challenged Arsenal to lay down an early marker with victory over Blackburn tomorrow as they look to close back up on the top four.

The Gunners missed the opportunity to capitalise on Chelsea's draw at Swansea when they failed to beat Bolton at the Reebok Stadium on Wednesday night.

However, with tomorrow's visit of struggling Rovers moved forwards to a 1pm kick-off, Arsenal could leapfrog both Liverpool and Newcastle, who are not in action until later over the weekend.

"It is an early game and as we are one of the first teams (to play), we have to go for three points to show the other teams we are there," said the German centre-back.

"We are always looking for clean sheets and good performances.

"We created good chances to score at Bolton, but it wasn't enough. There is a lot of room for improvement.

"We have a very good side with lots of potential but we have to be good and we have to use our opportunities."

Midfielder Mikel Arteta knows Arsenal have to consistently produce good performances every week if they are not to fall behind in the race for Champions League qualification, currently trailing Chelsea by five points.


"Hopefully we will get the points on Saturday because we really need them," said the Spaniard. "We should win the game, like we should have won against Bolton.

"It (the race for a top-four place) is going to be tough. We have the talent and quality in the side, but we have to show it game by game."

Mertesacker took a kick in the face from Kevin Davies towards the end of the Bolton game, but is expected to feature tomorrow.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger believes everyone must focus on the pluses after at least bringing to an end their run of three straight league defeats.

"When you come out of the spell we have had, not to lose is already positive," he said.

"We have to continue in our next game to produce the kind of game we had at Bolton."

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