Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Crazy to Say We Won't Get Stronger; Flamini Assures Arsenal Fans That Team Will Improve in Second Half of the Season

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Crazy to Say We Won't Get Stronger; Flamini Assures Arsenal Fans That Team Will Improve in Second Half of the Season

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley Chief Football Correspondent

MATHIEU FLAMINI insists it would be "crazy" not to think Arsenal will improve in the second half of the season after Liverpool salvaged a point.

Martin Skrtel scored a 97th-minute equaliser to earn Brendan Rodgers' side a 2-2 draw at Anfield yesterday and deny the Gunners a measure of revenge for a 5-1 defeat in last season's corresponding fixture.

Arsenal were forced to defend for long periods yet had forged a winning position after goals from Mathieu Debuchy and Olivier Giroud overturned Phillippe Coutinho's first-half opener.

But the Gunners threw away their lead late on as Skrtel's earlier head injury contributed to nine minutes of added time and the Slovakia centre-back powered home Steven Gerrard's corner to keep Arsene Wenger's team four points off a Champions League spot.

Theo Walcott was an unused substitute as he bids to overcome a groin problem and with Nacho Monreal recovering from a foot injury to appear as a late substitute to climb off the treatment table along with the recently returned Debuchy, Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini insists Arsenal's form will soon improve.

"It would be crazy to think the opposite because we lost so many key players and having them back is very important for the team," he told Standard Sport. "We definitely need them because in the championship and the last stages of the Champions League, you cannot do it with 11 players. You need 25 so it is important for us to have them back.

"The season is going to be long. We are only arriving at Christmas now. There are still a lot of games to go so we take one game after another and focus on the next matches. I am very confident in the team, very confident in the quality we have because we have a few top players."

Although Arsenal were unable to hang on, Flamini believes his teammates are showing greater resilience than in big matches last season, where they suffered heavy defeats at Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea. …

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