Mertesacker: We don't fancy early kick-offs

Per Mertesacker wants Arsenal to avoid any more early alarm calls away from home after Chelsea became the latest team to catch them napping in a lunchtime kick-off.

Per Mertesacker;

Saturday's 6-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge could have ended the Gunners' Barclays Premier League title ambitions, and followed a worrying pattern for Arsenal after they conceded six in a 12.45pm kick-off away to Manchester City early in the season before going down 5-1 to Liverpool in a lunchtime match at Anfield last month.

"I don't know why, but it looks like we don't fancy early kick-offs away," Mertesacker said.

"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."

Arsene Wenger's 1,000th match in charge of Arsenal could hardly have got off to a worse start as Chelsea scored twice in the opening eight minutes through Samuel Eto'o and Andre Schurrle.

There was controversy when Kieran Gibbs was sent off for a handball by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 17th minute, but no doubt it was a penalty and Eden Hazard put Chelsea 3-0 up from the spot before an Oscar brace and Mohamed Salah's first Chelsea goal completed the rout against an Arsenal side who appeared overrun in midfield even with 11 men.

"We wanted to start very strong and show people we are good enough, but they scored the two very early goals," Mertesacker said.

"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 10 men so early."

The loss leaves Arsenal seven points behind Chelsea, and although they have a game in hand momentum does not appear to be with them as they sit fourth with Liverpool and Manchester City both going well ahead of them.

There could be twists and turns to come, however, not least with City having to travel to both Liverpool and Arsenal after this week's Manchester derby, and Chelsea also facing a trip to Anfield, giving Mertesacker hope.

"We must put this behind us now, show our character and bounce back on Tuesday night against Swansea at the Emirates Stadium," he said.

"It's a good opportunity to react quickly after this result."



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