Gael Clichy is feeling better with every game after getting his second 'pre-season' out of the way.

The Frenchman was sidelined for almost three months with a back injury and took time to find his rhythm when he returned to first-team action in January. Clichy was criticised in some quarters but he is gradually rediscovering his best form and was one of Arsenal's stand-out players at Barcelona on Tuesday night.

Clichy is relieved he is over his blip but he's not surprised his form deserted him at the start of the year. As the left-back points out, his injury lay-off was longer than a close-season break.

"Even if you’ve been out for four months, people expect you to do well when you’re back on the pitch and don’t want any excuses," Clichy told the Official Matchday Programme.

"But that kind of absence is still longer than, for example, our summer break - and we know that after the summer holidays you need a month and a half to get fit and sharp. Pre-season friendlies and training are not for nothing!

"So the same applies here, I think – it’s never easy to come back and be thrown straight into big games, but I wasn’t worried because I knew I needed time.

"On the other hand, I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to play as well as I can – but I’m feeling better game after game and I hope that people who rightly said I wasn’t playing well earlier on can see that I’m improving now.

"My game is based on fitness and if I’m sharp I can do really well – I’m feeling fresh and recovering quite well between the games, so I’m sure I can perform even better. There aren’t many games to go now and I want to show that I can deliver for Arsenal."

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

Copyright 2014 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 8 Apr 2010