Almunia over Gunners 'nightmare'
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By Chris Burton. Last Updated: November 29, 2008 10:17pm
Almunia: Remains upbeat
Manuel Almunia believes Arsenal are ready to put the 'nightmare' of the past few weeks behind them.
The Gunners have endured a troubled spell of late, slipping to back-to-back defeats in the Premier League and seeing French centre-half William Gallas cause a storm with tales of dressing room discontent.
However, with Cesc Fabregas now installed as the new skipper at Emirates Stadium, in place of Gallas, the issues which have been disrupting the club appear to have calmed.
A 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday helped the Gunners book a safe passage into the knockout stages of Europe's premier club competition, and Almunia is hoping the momentum from that result can be carried into Sunday's domestic showdown with London rivals Chelsea.
"The last two weeks have been a nightmare for us," said the Spanish goalkeeper.
"We needed to win, but we could not get the right performance and we did not know what to do.
"The win over Kiev is a step forward for the confidence of the team and against Chelsea I hope we can face them in the right way.
"Stamford Bridge is a very hard place to play, a very hard place to win - but Liverpool won there this season so why can't Arsenal do it?
"Against Manchester United we showed that with great spirit, with great fight, with concentration, with everything a footballer has to have, that we can beat anybody - but every single player has to think in every single game what to do and where we are because we are one of the top clubs in the world.
"We do not need to think in titles - we need first to come back as a great team and we will see after what we can get."
Almunia also believes that his fellow countryman, Fabregas, will prove to be an inspired choice as the club's new captain.
"Against Kiev, Cesc did the same as normal, maybe, though I saw in his face more responsibility, more taken on his shoulders - but he is mature enough to cope with this responsibility," he added.
"Cesc has the spirit, the ability, all which is needed to be a great captain for Arsenal.
"All he needs is to be a bit lucky and for the team to follow him in a good way.
"We will try to follow him as we tried to follow William Gallas in the past. Now is the moment of Cesc and he is going to take the chances, he is going to respond."