We went into the Manchester United game as we always do - looking to win it, and I feel, despite what has been said about it since, it was a top level game.
Having watched it closely again on the video now, I think we could have won it. We could have lost it too of course in the last ten minutes, when we were in a bit of trouble, but before that I thought we had plenty of room to win it. We have been unfortunate in the big games, because we had the goal ruled out against Chelsea, and against Manchester United we had a penalty against Fabregas turned down.
Overall though I want to take the positives out of the performance, because I don't feel the game deserved the negative publicity it received. This team is improving, the youngsters are developing and we want to keep on doing the good work we do with them.
It was a problem to get behind the Manchester United defence, but you have to give them credit for that. You don't get 15 chances in a game against Man United. We had a few good chances, but we couldn't take them. I feel that might also be down in part to the fact that it was our fourth game in eight days, and some players played in every game.
We have got four clean sheets in a row now, and we want to combine being stable defensively with being fluent and creating chances. I do feel that the fluency of our game is getting better and of course we want to get back to scoring goals because that has always been our strong point.
We take on Cardiff today in the FA Cup, and no matter what people say, we always take this Cup seriously. Our record speaks for itself.
We don't neglect any competition. We are fifth in the table at the moment, but the Premiership always remains a very big target for us, and to finish as high as possible will be very, very important. And in three days' time we play Wigan in the Carling Cup and that has become very important as well.
So I feel that we are in a part of the season where every game becomes like a cup final.
When you lose games in September, you think 'ok we will catch up'. Now at this stage of the season, you know you do not have many more chances.
I know it will be a very tough game against Cardiff, and although I will rest Thierry Henry because he has played five games on the trot, I will keep a strong core of experience in the side. I will say that about 90 per cent of the team will be made up from first team regulars.
Cardiff have got some good players, some with Premiership experience such as Darren Purse, and they have got Rhys Weston who was a good young player here, and Cameron Jerome up front is a handful too. They will certainly be highly motivated and the Third Round is always the most difficult for us because we don't feel installed in the competition. We need a special alertness and experience, and to be fair in previous years we have always managed to do that.
We know Cardiff will give everything today, but we are at home and we have to be right on our game to go through.
The African Cup of Nations starts soon, but we would like to keep both Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue at the Club for one more week. So I hope we can keep them for the Middlesbrough game, but I do not know for sure yet. As for Ashley Cole returning from injury, I think we are looking at February 1 for him to be available and competitive.
Finally the transfer window is now open of course, but I must say I have not opened the window yet. I am just the other side of it, looking through, and trying to open to it, but we are not there yet. All I can tell you at the moment is that we will try to have some transfer activity this month.
Thanks for your tremendous support again so far this season. We will need you in full voice again today, enjoy the game.
Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 7 Jan 2006