By Richard Clarke
Gael Clichy admits the pressure is on his Arsenal side after
their defeat at Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Having drawn 1-1 at Newcastle last Wednesday, Arsène Wenger's team saw their lead cut to one point after a dismal 2-1 reverse at the Riverside Stadium. With Chelsea due to visit Emirates Stadium next Sunday - and Manchester United playing at Liverpool the same day - it is the wrong time for Arsenal to lose their way.
But Clichy believes his side will relish the battle and hopes that they will be able to recover some of their injured stars before Avram Grant's side arrive next weekend.
"We knew the gap could have been six points if we had won against Newcastle," he said. "That was the first disappointment. But if you look at the game one point wasn't a bad result in the end. If we had won at Middlesbrough it would have been perfect.
"But now the gap has closed and we have to make something good against Chelsea because the pressure is on. We like the pressure but it would have been different with a win at Middlesbrough.
"It's a big week. That's why I'm saying it would be good if we could get all the players back from injury. I think we missed something at Middlesbrough.
"When you have players like Cesc, Robin, Alex and Mathieu in the side it is very different. We have the quality without those players so it's not an excuse. But of course we look forward to them coming back because with them we are stronger.
"I think everyone gave 100 per cent at Middlesbrough. It was just the pitch, the fact everyone was a bit tired and we didn't play the way we like to play.
"We have a strong squad and we are first and were playing well without five star players. It was a bit unlucky [to have so many out]. But we know with all these games we are going to get some injured players so we have to be focused now.
"All the games are big but of course Chelsea is a massive game. Plus with only the one-point gap between ourselves and Manchester United, and Chelsea only a few points away, we have to play a great game. For me this game at Middlesbrough was a big game but we lost and the gap is only one point. Now we are just looking forward to Chelsea."