Odegaard urges Gunners to ‘strike back’

Playmaker’s rallying call after shock Palace defeat

Thursday, 7th April — By Steve Barnett

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MARTIN Odegaard says Arsenal must “strike back” this Saturday when Brighton & Hove Albion visit the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners’ hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League were dealt a devastating blow on Monday night when they were beaten 3-0 by Crystal Palace.

It wasn’t so much the defeat that was devastating – losing is part of the game – but the manner in which Arsenal succumbed at Selhurst Park will leave fans fearing a fixture list that still includes games against Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and West Ham.

With Spurs now occupying fourth spot in the Premier League table, albeit having played a game more, Mikel Arteta had little choice but to apologise to supporters for what he described as an “unacceptable” performance.

Odegaard echoed those views, insisting that the players must make sure that such a dismal display “doesn’t happen again”.

The Danish playmaker told Arsenal media: “It’s only one game, so we have to make sure the next one, we’re on the level we’re supposed to be at. One bad game can happen but we have to make sure it’s only one and strike back. We have to look forward.

“We’re all disappointed, obviously. It was a hard one for us to take. We’ve played really, really good lately and had so many good games. This one was hard for us. We’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“I think it’s up to everybody to stick together. It’s easy to stick together when we’re winning and doing well, so we’ll stick together and fight to win the next game.”

Arteta was quick to refute any ideas that the pressure of finishing in the top four is starting to get to his players.

He said: “We are talking all the time about the race for the top four and the boys have been performing extremely well and getting the results and playing really well.

“Against Crystal Palace we didn’t perform and it’s as simple as that – we were second best in every department.”

Quizzed on Tottenham now being above them, the Arsenal boss added: “We’ve got a game in hand still and we need to play them.

“We know that with nine games left a lot of things are going to happen. We have to play each other and we have to play some big games coming up.

“We have to focus on ourselves and the problem that we had against Crystal Palace was not Spurs, it was us and what we did in the first half.

“We need to put our hands up, apologise, regroup, and tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to prepare for the game against Brighton.”

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