• Premier League

'Arsenal have the mental strength to win title'

ESPN staff
February 13, 2014
Wojciech Szczesny says Arsenal have fully recovered from their mauling at Liverpool © Getty Images
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Wojciech Szczesny insists that Arsenal have the mental character to emerge from their setbacks and finally win the Premier League again.

The goalkeeper helped keep Manchester United at bay in a goal-less draw at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night but the result was seen as two points dropped in the title race.

After Arsenal's 5-1 thrashing at Liverpool last weekend, it means Arsene Wenger's side have given their main rivals considerable encouragement.

The manager criticised his team for playing with "the handbrake on" against United but Szczesny claimed they have already proved they are not about to choke and waste their chance of winning the club's first league title since 2002.

Szczesny said: "It will be really tight. A lot of teams are very close to each other at the top. "We are confident going into the last few games. If we show our character, we can do it."

"We've recovered from conceding five goals, that needed mental strength. But it's time to push on now.

"We tried our best, defended well for 90 minutes, but we didn't take our chances. The clean sheet is a positive but we're disappointed that we didn't win the game [against United]."

Another reason Arsenal managed to keep a clean sheet was the performance of Per Mertesacker in front of Szczesny in defence.

The German's form this season has been widely praised and he, too, believes Wenger's side have the fortitude to successfully complete their title bid.

"When you know that February could be season-defining, it makes you feel like you need to always be at your top level and putting in your best performances, he told Sport.

"You feel the tension before every game - but before big games and big opponents you feel it a bit more within yourself.

"We have a young squad, but it's one with plenty of experience. And I feel that, mentally, we are strong enough to cope with those situations better than maybe last year or two years before."

Mertesacker is also confident Arsenal have the strength to cope with demands of the final stages of the Champions League while competing for the Premier League title.

Bayern Munich stand in their way of progress with the first-leg of their last-16 tie taking place at home next Tuesday (February 19). They represent daunting opponents after the German club knocked them out of the competition last season.

Bayern have appointed Pep Guardiola as manager since then and Mertesacker believes the Spaniard has improved an already impressive team.

However, after admitting he didn't want to review last season's painful Champions League exit on video, he said: "We have good and bad memories from those two games.

"After the second leg we went on a massive run and were unbeaten to the end of the season, so we got something out of that situation.

"We were knocked out of the Champions League, but we found ourselves back in fourth by the end of the season after there were a lot of doubts. Now we have another chance - and an opportunity to beat the champions.

"We want to achieve something exceptional this season, so we have to beat the best. That is not only Manchester City and Chelsea. That is Bayern Munich in the Champions League."

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