Wojciech Szczesny says Arsenal retain title ambitions
Wojciech Szczesny insists Arsenal are not about to throw in the towel as they battle to overhaul Manchester United's imposing lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League - and declared the team owe their disappointed fans a response with victory at arch-rivals Tottenham on Wednesday night.
The Gunners now stand six points behind United after they were held to a 1-1 draw following a dramatic end to yesterday's game with Liverpool at Emirates Stadium, which saw two penalties scored deep into stoppage time.
When Arsene Wenger's battle-weary team run out at White Hart Lane, that deficit could be increased if United - beaten by rivals City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday - get a result at Newcastle.
Szczesny returned to action after six weeks out with a finger injury suffered in the Champions League defeat at Barcelona.
The young Pole, who turned 21 today, could do little to prevent the Reds' dramatic equaliser as Dirk Kuyt drilled home a last-gasp penalty just moments after Robin van Persie looked to have won it from the spot at the other end.
Szczesny, though, maintains all is not yet lost as the Gunners, unbeaten in 15 matches, aim to keep within striking distance of United ahead of their May 1 showdown at Emirates Stadium.
"It is still possible for us to win the title, but we have to say we dropped two points and it's terribly disappointing. We are all gutted," he said.
"However, we still have to play Manchester United and they also have to play Chelsea - they will drop points.
"We believe we are good enough to win every game from now until the end of the season, so we believe we can do it."
Szczesny added: "Tottenham is a very good game for us to come back from a big disappointment, and we owe it to the fans as well because they are obviously very disappointed about what happened.
"We owe them a result at White Hart Lane."
Szczesny cannot wait to sample the white-hot atmosphere of an away north London derby.
"I am going to absolutely love it," the Poland keeper said.
"I love when the crowd is really loud and the game is very tense so I am going to enjoy it.
"I did have a lot of fans behind me shouting and trying to disturb me when I played [on loan] with Brentford. I deal with the pressure well."
Should the Gunners lose again to their fierce rivals - who performed a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Emirates Stadium earlier this season - then that would open the door for Chelsea to claim the runners-up spot.
Szczesny, though, maintained: "We are only thinking about winning the title, not who is behind us.
"We go into everything to finish first. We are Arsenal - we don't want to finish second and we definitely don't want to finish third. We just think about winning."
Szczesny returned from a loan spell at Brentford determined to force his way into Arsene Wenger's first-team plans.
Few, though, gave the Poland stopper much chance of anything more than few games in the Carling Cup.
However, after injuries to both Manuel Almunia and compatriot Lukasz Fabianski, Wenger threw Szczesny in at the deep end to make his Premier League bow at Old Trafford and, apart from the disappointment of a costly late mix-up with Laurent Koscielny in the Carling Cup final against Birmingham, the young keeper has produced some impressive displays.
Now recovered from his finger injury in quick time, Szczesny is determined to hold onto the Arsenal gloves for the long term.
"I will always look at this as my breakthrough season and I want to cement my place in the team for a long, long time," he said.
"Whatever happens this year, next year will be very important for me personally and for Arsenal as well."
Szczesny added: "I am doing my best. Whatever decision the manager makes at the start of next season is completely down to him, but I will do my best to cement my position in goal."
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