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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Arsenal 'struggle with early starts'

Per Mertesacker has blamed Arsenal’s capitulation at Chelsea on Saturday on the early kick-off time.

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The Gunners, who had Kieran Gibbs sent off, were thrashed 6-0 at Stamford Bridge by the Premier League leaders in a game that got underway at 12:45 p.m. GMT.

It is the latest title setback for Arsene Wenger’s side, having suffered a 5-1 defeat at Liverpool in February, as well as a 6-3 hammering at Manchester City in December -- both games having also kicked off at lunchtime on a Saturday.

And Mertesacker has revealed that starting matches early, particularly away from home, has proved an Achilles' heel for Arsenal, while he even joked that the club should write to the Football Association to ask to play their away games at a later time in future.

“I don't know why, but it looks like we don't fancy early kick-offs away,” Mertesacker said in the Daily Mirror. “It looks like we are going to have to apply to the FA to not play at 12.45 away. That would help us a lot.

“We wanted to start very strong and show people we are good enough, but they scored the two very early goals. We lost some balls when we tried to keep it desperately. They then caught us on the counter-attack. We tried to avoid that. But we missed it completely. 

“There was not much difference before the red card, but afterwards it was even harder to come back, especially when it goes to 3-0 and to 10 men so early.”


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