Arsenal focus on Premier League, Man United after Barca loss - Mertesacker
Per Mertesacker says Sunday's game against Manchester United is a perfect chance for Arsenal to put the loss to Barcelona behind them and show they can still compete for the Premier League title.
Arsenal have little time to lament the 2-0 loss to Barcelona on Tuesday in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie as they face three crucial Premier League games in a seven-day span, starting with a visit to Old Trafford on Sunday.
The Gunners are two points behind Leicester after beating the leaders in their last league game, and travel to United full of confidence after beating them 3-0 at home this season and also eliminating them from the FA Cup at Old Trafford last season.
"We have a great chance on Sunday to do that again and show that we can compete for the title," Mertesacker told the Arsenal website. "We will go to Manchester United and we are in a good position -- we don't want to give that up.
"We have a great chance to focus back on the Premier League and forget what happened in the last 20 minutes [against Barcelona.]"
Last year, former United forward Danny Welbeck scored the winning goal at Old Trafford in the FA Cup quarterfinals as the Gunners went on to win the competition for the second straight year. This season, the Premier League is the big target -- especially with the team now needing a miracle to stay in the Champions League -- and Welbeck could come back to haunt his former club yet again.
Arsenal's other forwards are in the middle of a serious scoring drought and missed several chances again against Barcelona, while Welbeck has looked dangerous since coming back from near 10-month injury layoff.
"It helps we beat United last year in the cup. I think that was a great experience for us and it is still in our heads sometime when you think about big games and Old Trafford," Mertesacker said.
"It is going to be an interesting game so let's not forget the positives from Barcelona and go there and give our best with the same effort."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him @MattiasKaren.