Mertesacker urges Gunners to press on

Per Mertesacker has warned Arsenal must “switch off” from the frustration and disappointment of their Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich to avoid losing ground in the domestic title race.

The Gunners lost 2-0 to the reigning European champions at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night in a match where club-record signing Mesut Ozil had a tame early penalty saved before goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for tripping Arjen Robben in the box.

Bayern full-back David Alaba sent the resultant spot-kick against the post but there was to be no great escape for the English side as eventually Bayern’s patient build-up was rewarded when Manchester United target Toni Kroos fired home a 20-yard effort and substitute Thomas Muller headed in a late second to all but kill off the tie.

Arsenal must now regroup for tomorrow’s visit of relegation battlers Sunderland when Arsene Wenger’s side will look to keep pace in the race for the Premier League title.

“We will concentrate on Saturday now, because we are going through a period with a lot of games,” German centre-back Mertesacker said.

“We will switch off from the Champions League now, and then switch on again (for the Premier League) on Saturday.

“We need that because we have played a lot of games. Our team has great spirit and will come back from this.”

Arsenal can retain some slim hope of an unlikely comeback given their 2-0 win at the Allianz Arena last season, which saw them exit only on away goals.

However, there is no escaping the obvious disappointment of a missed opportunity to have put the European champions on the back foot.

Mertesacker added: “Against Bayern, you have to be ice cold, you have no chance if not.

“They have a lot of players who can shoot into the top corner and make it look easy with the way they keep the ball.

“With just 10 men, it was a suicide mission, and the second goal hurt us.”

Ozil posted a message on his official Facebook account to apologise for his penalty miss.

The German wrote: “The next morning doesn’t feel better either. sorry guys — it wasn’t planned that way. outnumbered it was really hard to win against this team.”

Team-mate Lukas Podolski, though, backed his compatriot to soon recover form.

He said on Twitter: “That’s football! Trust in Mesut, he will give it back twice in return and make all of us happy. Friends stand together. Let’s go AFC!”

Uefa, meanwhile, is waiting on reports from match officials and observers before deciding whether to launch disciplinary action against Szczesny for an offensive hand gesture made as the Poland goalkeeper walked off down the player’s tunnel following his dismissal.

Television pictures also appeared to show Bayern winger Robben spit in the direction of Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna, which could also open up sanctions from Europe’s governing body.

Robben, though, denies the claims, maintaining it was sweat which television cameras showed dripping off the Holland midfielder onto the Arsenal defender.


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