Walcott hails Gunners’ spirit

All seemed lost for the Gunners when they had been out-muscled 3-0

at home by Chelsea last month – a result which left them some 11

points off the pace. However, with their title rivals all slipping

up on Saturday, Arsene Wenger’s men made the most of the

opportunity, battling back from 1-0 down to triumph 2-1 at

Liverpool. The victory saw Arsenal cut the deficit on second-placed

Manchester United, who had lost at home against Aston Villa, down

to just three points, with a game in hand on both them and leaders

Chelsea, who were held to a 3-3 by Everton at Stamford Bridge.

Wenger had been so disgusted by the first-half display at Anfield

that the Frenchman declared his players were not fit to wear the

Arsenal shirt – a rant which had the desired effect as they soon

levelled through a Glen Johnson own goal and then Andrey Arshavin’s

stunning effort secured a vital victory. England forward Walcott

declared: “Results like this show we are no pushovers. “Being 1-0

down at Anfield, it is a hostile place, but we showed great spirit

to come back and win. “We wanted to give something back to the fans

because they were fantastic for us.” Walcott maintains Arsenal have

what it takes to cope without injured Holland international Robin

van Persie, who will be sidelined until at least April with ankle

ligament damage. “We believe we can mount a challenge without

Robin,” said Walcott, quoted in the London Evening Standard. “Robin

will be an unbelievable miss, but we have got people like Andrey

coming in to fill the gaps. He is fantastic as well and will

definitely clock up plenty of goals.” Walcott knows Arsenal must

now continue their resurgence with another away victory at Turf

Moor on Wednesday night. “It is great to get these three points and

gradually get closer to Chelsea and Manchester United,” the

20-year-old said. “We have a game in hand coming up, but we must

look to Wednesday’s game at Burnley now, aim to get the three

points and we will be right there at the end of the season.” Much

has been made of Wenger’s half-time tirade – after captain Cesc

Fabregas revealed in a post-match interview: “the boss screamed….

and said we didn’t deserve to wear the Arsenal shirt if we played

like that. I think he was right.” The Gunners boss, however, showed

his appreciation just as passionately when they were all back in

the dressing room following the final whistle. Walcott said to

Arsenal TV Online: “The boss gave us a round of applause when we

came in, and all the lads were bubbling. “None of us were happy

with the first half. We were 1-0 down and hadn’t played well. “The

boss just showed his passion for the game and that he has belief in

us. “It woke us up and that’s what you have got to do as a manager.

“It worked, because coming in at the end of the game and getting a

round of applause from the boss showed that we listened to him.”