Mar 02, 2016

    Gunners must catch fire again


    PETR Cech admits Arsenal must record back-to-back victories against Swansea and Tottenham this week to relaunch their spluttering Premier League title challenge.

    The Gunners' showdown with Swansea at the Emirates Stadium tonight marks the first of those games, with Arsene Wenger's side aiming to bounce back from Sunday's damaging 3-2 defeat at Manchester United.

    That loss, together with Leicester's defeat of Norwich a day earlier and Tottenham's victory over Swansea, left Arsenal in third place, five points off top spot.

    That meant the Gunners squandered their good work in beating leaders Leicester seven days earlier, a win that had moved Wenger's men second and appeared to shift the momentum of the title race in their direction.

    But instead of building on that triumph, Arsenal are now playing catch-up. The manner of their defeat at Old Trafford has also raised questions about their stomach for the fight, as well as reigniting the debate about Wenger's own future at the club.

    The French coach is in no doubt about the reaction he is expecting from his players against a Swansea side who lie two places and three points above the relegation zone and are without a win in four league games.

    "We have to show that we are at the level of this fight," Wenger told Arsenal Player website.

    "Things can change quickly.

    "We need to bounce back quickly on Wednesday night."

    And the manager's view was supported by Arsenal goalkeeper Cech, a veteran of four Premier League title successes with Chelsea.

    "This (the defeat at United) was a big disappointment for us and is a step back after last week where we managed to overcome a deficit against Leicester at home," he said.

    "This is a step back but we need to keep working. We have two important games coming up this week and if we manage to win both, the table might look better again."

    On paper, the more challenging match is against Tottenham currently in second place, three points clear of their north London rivals.

    With the derby scheduled for an early kick-off just three days after the Swansea clash, Wenger may be tempted to make changes in a bid to freshen up his side with Olivier Giroud likely to return up front in place of Theo Walcott against the south Wales outfit.

    Sunday's defeat at White Hart Lane did nothing to ease Swansea's relegation fears, although midfielder Leroy Fer insists there were grounds for optimism ahead of the visit to the Emirates Stadium.

    "We have to keep our heads up and go again on Wednesday," he said.

    "We have a strong squad here and everyone is desperate to do their part to help the team get points."

    Alberto Paloschi's first Swansea goal was one of the positives to take from the weekend and the striker - signed from Chievo in January - revealed he was backed on his move to the Premier League by former Italy striker Filippo Inzaghi.

    The latter was a senior player when Paloschi broke into the AC Milan first team as a teenager and has remained in touch with his former team-mate.

    "He was and still is a great friend to me. When he got to know I was coming to Swansea, he sent me a good luck message to wish me the best here," Paloschi said.

    "I would like to be the Inzaghi of Swansea. I am very happy and determined to stay here and do well in the Premier League for Swansea. I will do all I can to enjoy my stay here and make it a success."