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Friday 15 December 2017

Mertesacker: Arsenal must learn quickly from Palace game

Defender Per Mertesacker wants Arsenal to stay focussed after holding on for a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace
Defender Per Mertesacker wants Arsenal to stay focussed after holding on for a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace

Defender Per Mertesacker has challenged Arsenal to learn quickly from their warning at Crystal Palace to avoid any more costly lapses in concentration and stay in the Premier League top four.

The Gunners looked to be closing out a hard-earned 2-0 win at Selhurst Park on Saturday, only for a scrambled effort by Glenn Murray in stoppage time to set up a frantic finale before the substitute almost snatched a dramatic draw when his flying header came back off the base of a post.

A fifth victory from their last six league matches moved Arsenal to third to maintain momentum ahead of Tuesday's Champions League last 16 first leg showdown with Monaco. Mertesacker, currently captaining the side with Mikel Arteta still out injured, accepts Arsenal must retain focus at the back if they are to build on the positive work since the turn of the year.

"At the end they tried to put us under pressure and get some strikers on. They nearly scored the equaliser so we were a bit lucky," the German said. "Sometimes you lose games, especially at the end, but that was a bit of a warning for us not to switch off.

"Overall, though, we are absolutely delighted with the three points and we move on."

Danny Welbeck has challenged Arsenal to make home advantage count against Monaco.

Welbeck sees the first leg as key to Arsenal's hopes of progressing through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2009/10. "We play home at first, and it's a good opportunity for us to show our strengths in front of our fans. We just need to prepare well."

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