Premier League

Almunia calls for fast start

Gunners keeper rallies team-mates ahead of new season

Almunia: Rallying Gunners

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Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has stressed that his team-mates must begin the new season with gusto if they are to end their wait for silverware.

The Gunners lost five of their first 14 matches last campaign, effectively ending their chances of landing the Premier League title.

Their form did improve during the second half of the term as they sealed fourth place and reached the semi-finals of both the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup.

Spanish shot-stopper Almunia is keen to avoid a repeat of last season's stuttering start and insists the same mistakes cannot be made again if they are to secure a trophy for the first time since 2005.

"Overall we needed to be more focused at the start of the season," the 32-year-old said in the July edition of the official Arsenal magazine.

"If we had all been more involved with the mission at the start of the season, it could have been a better year for us. In the last half of the season I think everyone realised what was required and you could see the results.

Total commitment

"I think sometimes something has to be said to make things work right and when certain things were spoken about, it proved to make people focus on things.

"The second half of the season showed what we can do, but you have to be fit mentally and physically from the start and be fully involved with the project of the boss."

Almunia added: "That is what we need to do from July this year, from the minute we get back for pre-season.

"We need to make sure the group is together and focused after the break and to show our total commitment.

"I am sure that because we have the quality, next season will be much better than the one we have just finished."