Arsenal winger Theo Walcott firmly believes that his club has the ability to bounce back and defeat Premier League-chasing Manchester City when the two sides meet at Emirates Stadium this weekend.
The Gunners had been in excellent form until recently when their run of seven-consecutive league victories was abruptly ended by the 2-1 defeat that they suffered at the hands of Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
In the post-match interview, coach Arsene Wenger confessed that his players were second-best in almost all individual battles in that match. It went from bad to worse for them, as a day later, Tottenham Hotspur, their direct rivals for the third position, erased the three-point gap between them by defeating Swansea City at White Hart Lane.
Walcott, who was the scorer of Arsenal’s solitary goal against QPR in last weekend’s defeat, says they can instantly recover from that setback by delivering a strong performance against City this Sunday. The England international’s point is that when they were down and out at the start of February, they bounced back even though no one was giving them a chance of getting back among the top four. Therefore, he says there is no reason why he and his teammates cannot bounce back in similar style once again.
In a recent interview with Arsenal’s official website Arsenal.com, Walcott said: “I think that we can deal with pressure when it is thrown upon our shoulders. The manager always takes it on his back, but as players we can cope with that now because we had that tough period.
“We had a lot of injuries, things weren’t going our way and Tottenham were 10 points ahead, but we dealt with that, we continued playing our football and completely turned it around. When people play at their full potential it makes the job so much easier. We need to learn to do this more often.
“We are learning to grind out results now. The Everton game for example, saw us play very well for 20 minutes but after that it was all Everton. But we still won 1-0 and that is what we need to do more often. We have real character in the squad, a lot of leaders and captains, and that helps us.”
Arsenal’s only home defeat in the league this year came against Manchester United in January and since then, they have won all of their six games at the Emirates by a combined margin of 23-6. That kind of home form makes Walcott to say that the Emirates is now turning into a fortress for them.
“The fans expect us to win every game, and we expect to go out there, play our best and we feel we can win every game. The Emirates is starting to become a fortress, which is what we want it to be. That is with the help of the fans, they develop that. Away fans and players don’t like to come to the Emirates, especially over the last few months. It helps us players, it is like having an extra man on the field,” the 23-year-old speed merchant added.