Almunia wants Spurs response

Spaniard demands instant London derby response

Almunia: Fighting talk

Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has called on his team-mates to come out fighting when they return to domestic duties following their disappointing UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona.

Lionel Messi turned on the style in at Camp Nou on Tuesday evening to demolish the Gunners 4-1 in the quarter-final tie that ended 6-3 on aggregate in the Spaniards' favour.

The four-goal salvo from the Argentine sent Arsene Wenger's team crashing out the competition, meaning their only trophy hope for the season can come in the Premier League.

Arsenal sit third in the table, just three points shy of Chelsea with five games remaining.

But their next test comes against bitter local rivals Tottenham at White Hart Lane next Wednesday in a game that sees the ante upped by Wenger's title hopes and Spurs' own lofty ambitions.

Big character

Harry Redknapp's team are chasing a spot in the top four that would earn them Champions League football next season, and Almunia said his side must respond in the correct manner to their Catalan capitulation if they are to keep themselves in the title race.

"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," said the 32-year-old

"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."

Difficult to stop

Following the loss to Pep Guardiola's side, Wenger labelled Messi as the "best player in the world" as his charges were undone by the supremo's pace and skill.

Nicklas Bendtner had put the visitors into a shock lead that gave them hope of going through after a 2-2 draw in the first leg, however their tormentor-in-chief Messi left Almunia no chance with his four superbly taken goals.

And Almunia conceded he had a near impossible task in trying to stifle the Barca No.10, adding: "After we scored, Messi woke up and had a great night.

"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."