Backpage roundup: Arsenal psychologically damaged, Ox’s Southampton release, Martinez ready to step up, Walcott offered central role and more

Wenger Admits Gunners Are ‘Psychologically Damaged’

Arsene Wenger has admitted that Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea has inflicted some psychological damage on his men and they would now have to work on their defence to recover from that setback.

Two individual errors from central defender Laurent Koscielny handed the Blues the win but Wenger believes his charges played a very average game and were technically inferior to the visitors.

He said: “We can be much better. Technically we were average, and also so was our authority at the back. When you play at home and concede two goals from set-pieces, it is unacceptable. I think there is some psychological damage because we lost the game and the players are very disappointed, especially because we have lost a game we should not have lost and that is where we have some work to do, especially in some aspects of our defensive game.”

 

Ox Recalls Being ‘Almost’ Released By Southampton

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has revealed that his former club Southampton were once on the verge of releasing him for free due to his diminutive stature.

The 19-year-old midfielder says that his body didn’t mature as quickly as the rest of his teammates and that brought Saints very close to showing him the door. However, they ended up demoting him to their under-14 squad and that saved Oxlade-Chamberlain’s career.

In a recent interview with The Times, Oxlade-Chamberlain said: “Southampton were going to release me then. They said I was not big enough. It was just because I hadn’t grown. They said I couldn’t cope but they said that I was technically one of the best players, so instead they were going to keep me in the under-14s. I played there for one season. I played there for a season and it was really good for my confidence.”

 

Gibbs Hoping to Stay Injury Free

Kieran Gibbs is happy with the way the 2012/13 season has gone for him so far (injury-wise) and is hoping that he will continue to stay fit.

The 23-year-old full-back, who missed a lot of football in the past few seasons due to injuries, is fully fit these days and is impressing for Arsenal on the left hand side of their defence.

In a recent interview, he sounded content about his form and said: “I feel my performances have been positive. I’ve kept fit which has been important for me – especially over the last couple of years where I struggled. I always said if I can get a good run of games under my belt, I can always get stronger and hopefully be more consistent – which is what I am doing at the minute.”

About the current status of his fitness, he added: “I have still got a lot of rehab to be doing from my hernias and from injuries last season. The physios have been really good and pretty much been on top of me from day one. They check me every day – how I am feeling and how I am recovering.

“When you play every three days, if you haven’t played for a while it can take you a while to recover in between games, so I have to keep on top of that and make sure that I know not to push myself too much in between games – that will increase my risk of injury. So far it’s going well and they have done a really good job with me.”

Parlour Happy With Arsenal Start

Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour is confident that the Gunners will be successful this season despite the fact that they recently tasted their first loss of the new campaign.

Arsene Wenger’s men lost Saturday’s encounter against Chelsea 2-1 at Emirates Stadium but Parlour is staying optimistic and feels that the club is heading in the right direction.

Talking to Goals on Sunday, Parlour said: “I’ve been impressed with Arsenal this season. The new signings have come in and really settled in quickly – I really like Santi Cazorla, he looks like a top player – and they’ve had a good start. I know it was a poor result against Chelsea but they were looking good up until then.

“It’s going to be a long season, of course. People are saying where can they come this year? Well Champions League football is the main thing for Arsenal football club. Can they bridge the gap between them and Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City? That’s the level they’ve got to try to get to.”

Martinez Feels Ready to Step Up

Arsenal’s reserve goalkeeper Damian Martinez says that he feels ready to play at the top level for and is confident that he can become an important player for the Gunners if given more chances.

The 20-year-old Argentine, who made his first ever senior appearance for Arsenal in the 6-1 mauling of Coventry in mid-week, was recently asked by Ole if he feels he is ready to play more first-team football. He replied: “I am working for that. They played me and I responded well, so they know they can rely on me.”

“Arsene is very professional, and is very helpful. He treats the best player and the 17-year-old lad the same way. And he has the same demands. And if he has to play the kid that is better than the veteran, he will.”

 

City and Liverpool Promise Central Role to Walcott

The Sunday Mirror has claimed that Manchester City and Liverpool are both ready to turn Theo Walcott into a striker if he decides to sign for them.

The 23-year-old Arsenal winger has long spoken of his desire to play as a centre forward, and while Arsene Wenger has told him to be patient with his demands, the Gunners’ rivals are willing to give him what he wants instantly.