Arshavin rues Old Trafford loss

Published Dec. 14, 2010 10:04 p.m. ET

Arsenal midfielder Andrey Arshavin believes his side were unlucky to lose to Manchester United on Monday night.

The Gunners saw United overtake them at the top of the table thanks to Park Ji-sung's first-half winner at Old Trafford.

Arshavin told the club's official website: "We didn't deserve defeat, the match was a battle. Both teams fought for the result and unfortunately we lost.

"I think Manchester United had more luck than us during the game, but we were not able to create anything special near their goal.

"We didn't play for a draw, we simply acted responsibly in defence and looked for our chances to attack. If it wasn't for a fortunate bounce at the end of the first half, we would have gone in at 0-0 and the second half would have been easier."

The Russia international has called on Arsenal to bounce back from the defeat with victory over Stoke this weekend.

"There is no time to be melancholy or sad, we need to forget this defeat and start thinking about the next match," added Arshavin.


"We need to prepare properly for each opponent. The championship is very interesting this year and nothing has been lost yet."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has emerged from the rubble of Arsenal's damaging defeat to declare his intention to seize the unexpected chance handed to him by Arsene Wenger.

The 20-year-old leapt to the head of Wenger's goalkeeping queue when he was handed the starting spot at Old Trafford because of concern over Lukasz Fabianski's hip problem.

It was a remarkable show of faith in the youngster, who had previously played just three Carling Cup games for the Gunners.

However, the bold move did not pay dividends as Arsenal slipped to a defeat which leaves them two points behind United, having played a game more.

Wenger, though, declared himself satisfied with Szczesny's contribution - and the player himself is determined not to slip quietly back into the shadows.

"I am a reserve goalkeeper at the moment so I need to take every chance I get and this was a massive chance for me," he said.

"I felt that for my debut I did well enough. Unfortunately it wasn't enough for us to get any points but this is my big chance and I need to take it."

In any normal season, five defeats before Christmas would be enough to end any hope of a championship challenge, particularly when the leaders remain unbeaten.

But this is no normal campaign. And if the Gunners can overcome Stoke at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, they will return to top spot, albeit for just 24 hours until United visit Chelsea.

"It was a disappointing result, but we won't get too down. We are still very confident," insisted Szczesny.

"We believe if we recover on Saturday and put in the right performance against Stoke we could easily get three points and be back in the title race straight away.

"That is what the manager told us afterwards; he just tried to get us to focus on the match on Saturday.

"This game is gone. The team performance was quite good, but we just didn't get as much luck as United."

In fact, Szczesny viewed the winner as being a huge slice of good fortune.

Whilst most observers hailed Park Ji-sung for the manner in which he quickly angled his body to reach Nani's deflected cross, then send it looping into the Arsenal's net, the young keeper felt it was a fluke.

"Their goal was really lucky," he said.

"I don't think Park meant to head the ball, it just hit him and went in the top corner."

The assessment is a little harsh on an evening when Wenger became embroiled in a minor spat with a journalist who rather forcibly made a valid point about Arsenal's problem winning the biggest of matches.

It is now six games without a win against United and on December 27 they face a Chelsea side they have lost five successive times against.

That run must come to an end if Arsenal fans are to convince themselves this is a season when they can realistically mount a challenge.

The appearances of Cesc Fabregas, who has been out with a hamstring problem, and Robin van Persie as second-half substitutes offer much hope for optimism - although what is more open to question is whether they are capable of producing the blanket defensive performance that secured United their win last night.

Not that Szczesny views Monday night's opponents as superior. Far from it.

"We are still confident we are the top side in the Premier League," he said.

"Manchester United are beatable. Everyone is.

"The Premier League is very tight this year. They do have a solid back four, I will admit that, but they are beatable."