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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff By PA Sport

Arsenal need to toughen up - Nzonzi

Steven Nzonzi believes Arsenal are still soft and insists Stoke City will continue to "kick" Arsene Wenger's side in future matches as they cannot handle rough treatment.

Whittaker: Desire key to another Arsenal upset

The Gunners were subjected to a 1-0 loss at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday as Jonathan Walters' converted penalty handed a major blow to their Premier League title ambitions.

Wenger branded the penalty a "nice gift" and now sees his team trail league leaders Chelsea by four points in third place, with fourth-placed Manchester City also possessing two games in hand over them.

Arsenal have only won once in their last eight trips to the Britannia, when Aaron Ramsey suffered a horrific leg break during a 3-1 win in 2010.

And Nzonzi, 25, believes Stoke have found the key to making the Gunners suffer in Staffordshire, revealing they have no plans to ease up on them in the future.

"We know that Arsenal play good football but when you start kicking them a little bit, it gets harder for them," Nzonzi said. "They don't like it, we know that. We don't care. We'll keep on doing it, being strong and trying to be as good as we can be on the ball."

He added: "It's not a surprise they have been moaning because they have plenty of technical players.''

Asked if it was up to Arsenal to be more robust when they next pay a visit to the Britannia, Nzonzi said: “Yes -- this is how Premier League football is. It's really good, it's really strong. If they don't like that, we don't care. We will keep on doing what we can, being strong and trying to be as good as we can be on the ball.''

Saturday's contest saw Nzonzi return to the Stoke starting XI after being absent from it for the whole of February -- the first extended period like that he has had in his time with the club.

Reports over the last few days have suggested the former Blackburn man’s time on the bench has left him wanting a transfer.

And asked how he felt about the way things had gone over the past month, Nzonzi said: “I'm not going to lie, it hasn't been easy for me. But I have played many games, so I was a little bit tired, and there are also many good players at Stoke. You have to be quiet, wait your turn and keep working hard.

“It was not easy for me because every football player wants to play every game, but you cannot because there is competition and other good players who can play. That's how it is. That's football. You have to carry on and learn from it, and I think I have learnt from it.

“I spoke to Mark Hughes a little and he said he was being fair to all the players, and he has been. He's the manager, he makes the decisions and even if you're not really happy about that, there is nothing you can do about it other than keep on working hard.'' 

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