By Chris Harris
Wojciech Szczesny admitted that Arsenal "didn't really turn up" in the first 15 minutes of Sunday's defeat to Aston Villa.
That's all the time it took for Darren Bent to score the goals that eventually condemned Arsène Wenger's side to their eighth loss of the season and hand Manchester City the initiative in the chase for third place and automatic Champions League qualification.
Szczesny had no chance with either of Bent's well-taken strikes - a balletic volley and a clinical low finish - and he accepts that the damage was done long before Arsenal found their rhythm at Emirates Stadium.
"It’s very disappointing, especially the way we conceded the two goals," said the goalkeeper. "That is actually not the way we usually concede goals but Bent made a difference. He had two chances to score, scored both and he showed he is a very good finisher.
"I can't blame any of our players, we just looked like in the first 15 minutes of the game, or 20 minutes, that we didn’t want to be there. It was weird.
"We showed good character to come back because when you are two down it is hard and your head is supposed to go down. In the second half we showed that we wanted to give our fans something to cheer about, and we can only apologise that it didn’t happen.
"We were very disappointed to finish our home season in the way we did."
Having promised so much, Arsenal's season is limping to its conclusion. That's hard to take for the players and the fans but, all the same, Szczesny did not expect the Gunners to be so flat against Villa.
"Obviously we know we can’t win the title anymore, so your head does start to go down, but you couldn’t tell in the dressing room that there was a lack of attitude," he said. "I believe that all the players in our team do have a good attitude.
"I wanted to be there. I want to play for Arsenal, and every time I put on the Arsenal shirt I’m buzzing. It’s disappointing, but I am trying to look at the positives as well, and we had a change in attitude after the second goal, which is good."
Arsenal's home form has effectively cost them the title - they have been beaten at the Emirates by Newcastle, Tottenham, West Brom and now Villa - and Szczesny knows that must improve next season. But he still believes third place is within Arsenal's grasp.
"It’s not finished yet," he said. "If we win at Fulham then Manchester City can still drop points and I am still confident that we will get there."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 16 May 2011