Manuel Almunia is back on track after a traumatic start to the season.

The Spanish goalkeeper was sidelined by a chest infection and laid low by a family bereavement but returned to the Arsenal side for the North London derby on October 31 and has gone from strength to strength.

"Since coming back I have been feeling good," he told the Official Matchday Programme.

"I didn't feel so well at the start of the season, and I had some bad things around me. As a result I didn't start the season so well. But I feel well now back on the pitch and I'm feeling 100 per cent in my mind and body. I have sorted everything out in my body and my life, and I'm ready to help my team-mates.

"It was very hard. Sometimes during your career you don't feel at your best. But with good training, good help, and being professional I was sure I would come back. People around me, my wife, everyone was very supportive. Everybody has bad moments, and that was a bad period for me, but it's in the past now."

Almunia's status as Arsenal's No 1 was questioned when Vito Mannone and Lukasz Fabianski were given their chances in the first team but - for now - the Spaniard is the man to dislodge. And he wants to keep it that way.

"It's always tough competition," he said. "Not because there are two, three or four goalkeepers next to me in training every day, but because I impose on myself an obligation to work hard. If I was the only goalkeeper at the Club, I would have the same attitude.

"The biggest pressure I have is always from myself, and after a game when I'm not happy with myself, I am rude to myself - I am my own worst critic."

This interview first appeared in the Official Matchday Programme. You can subscribe to the Matchday Programme by calling 08700 20 20 20.

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8 Dec 2009