Cesc Fabregas turns up the heat on Arsenal title rivals
‘We are growing in confidence with every game,’ claims Arsenal captain despite West Ham draw
Arsene Wenger will be heartened that his senior players are expressing their unhappiness at the team's performance in letting a lead slip at West Ham on Sunday for the second time in a week. Thomas Vermaelen, the £10m summer signing from Ajax who has proved a defensive and goal scoring hit, told Arsenal TV Online of his concerns.
"I’m very disappointed. I think we should have won. Two goals out of nothing I think," the 23-year-old said. "We were 2-0 up and we were comfortable and in the second half as well we didn’t give any chance away to West Ham. They scored two times out of nothing and that makes it really bad. We should have had three points and I’m too disappointed to see the positive."
He was joined by his teammate Andrei Arshavin, who lamented to the Sun: "We are very upset indeed. Such results do not add positive emotions. It's not only me, all the team are unhappy about it. We got what we deserved with our performance.
"The West Ham game turned out to be almost a copy of what happened against Alkmaar. Initially we easily got an advantage - this time we were 2-0 up and then we allowed West Ham to equalise from set-pieces. If we had won on Sunday, we would now be very close to Chelsea in the table."
The Premier League setback, which robbed Arsenal of the chance of taking third spot outright and getting to within a point of Manchester United and three of table-toppers Chelsea, came on the heels of the 1-1 draw at AZ Alkmaar last Tuesday in the Champions League, when the Gunners tried to hold onto a slender 1-0 lead but were undone by an equaliser in injury time.
"It's very sickening because it doesn't reflect the quality of our game," Wenger told BBC Sport after Sunday's game at Upton Park, when first half goals from Robin Van Persie and William Gallas were cancelled out by strikes from two set pieces in the last fifteen minutes of the game. "We need to learn from our mistakes and the quicker the better. We played very well in the first half and we have to keep the positives of our game."
However club captain Cesc Fabregas was in a more relaxed mood after the game, telling the Daily Mail that the Londoners were under less pressure than their big-spending Premier League rivals. "Of course we are under pressure to win the title because Arsenal is a big club and expectations are always high," the 22-year-old said.
"But the other challengers have spent huge amounts of money in recent years to build their squads and perhaps they are the ones who are under the most pressure because of this investment. Arsenal has a long-term vision for the future. Nothing is ever impossible. We are not the favourites this season, but we truly believe we can we can fight for the championship. This team is maturing and growing in confidence all the time."
Arsenal's next game is a home Carling Cup tie tomorrow night against a Liverpool side who will be resurgent following their 2-0 triumph over Manchester United on Sunday at Anfield. Both sides have traditionally used these games to blood the more peripheral members of their squads, but with Rafa Benitez seeking to bring some confidence back to his first team he may choose to play a full team. It's unknown what Wenger will opt should his counterpart do this. ·
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