Almunia relishing spicy Spurs clash

The Gunners will be looking to stay in the Premier League title
race after being handed a footballing lesson by a Lionel
Messi-inspired Barcelona in the Nou Camp. The battle-weary and
injury-hit Gunners must now lift themselves for the final five
matches of the domestic campaign having seen their European dreams
shattered after a 4-1 defeat in Spain. Arsenal keeper Almunia,
however, believes a short trip across north London to face their
arch-rivals at White Hart Lane could be just the sort of encounter
Arsene Wenger’s men need to keep things in perspective. “We are
down and disappointed, but we have to accept that Barcelona were
better than us in both legs and now we must focus on winning the
Premier League,” the Spanish goalkeeper said. “Tottenham are
playing for a Champions League place and it will be a very tough
game – no matter when we play or what we are fighting for, a derby
match is special. “Everybody has played at Tottenham’s stadium and
we won’t be surprised by the hostility. “We have played against
them many times, so we know their football and support.” In the
build-up to the Champions League quarter-final second leg, Wenger
had talked of the great strength of character his squad have shown
throughout a campaign which has seen them written off time and
again, only to come out fighting – and indeed Arsenal had taken a
shock lead at the Nou Camp through Nicklas Bendtner. However, while
eventually the absence of key men like captain Cesc Fabregas,
William Gallas, Andrey Arshavin and Alex Song proved too much to
overcome against the Catalans, Almunia is in no doubt the squad
have what it takes to raise themselves for one final push as
Arsenal aim to overhaul Chelsea and Manchester United with just
three points separating the challengers. “We are in a good place in
the Premier League and we have to show big character as we have
done already in big moments,” he said. “We have to believe we can
still win a trophy – if not, then we should go home and forget the
season. “At least we are in the league fighting for the title and
that is what we want. “We want to play the last few games where
anything is possible, otherwise we would be very disappointed and
bored. “It is a completely different game against Spurs and I think
we will be okay for that match.” Almunia had performed heroics in
the first leg to prevent Barcelona from being out of sight before
half-time, but had little chance to stop any of Messi’s well-taken
efforts at the Nou Camp. The 32-year-old accepts sometimes there is
just nothing you can do against a player of the Argentinian’s
quality. “After we scored, Messi woke up and had a great night,”
said the Arsenal keeper, who was beaten by an exquisite chip as
Messi completed his hat-trick just before the break. “He is used to
having these kind of games and when you have a player like this, it
is difficult to stop him. “You try to guess what he is going to do
and anticipate him, but his skills are great and he can do anything
at any moment.”