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Wenger says Gunners will want to heal ‘hurt’ inflicted by Liverpool

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere looks dejected after the final whistle at Anfield. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire Arsenal's Jack Wilshere looks dejected after the final whistle at Anfield. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Saturday, February 15, 2014
8:00 AM

Arsene Wenger expects the “hurt” that his Arsenal players felt after their last humiliating defeat to Liverpool will be all the motivation they need to avoid a second reverse in a week against the Reds.

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The Gunners suffered a 5-1 rout at Anfield last week, where the Brendan Rodgers’ side blew them away with four goals inside the first 20 minutes to narrow the gap between the two in the Premier League. That was further reduced in midweek when Liverpool claimed a last-gasp win at Fulham, while Arsenal could only draw 0-0 with Manchester United.

Tomorrow the Merseysiders travel to the Emirates Stadium for a fifth-round FA Cup clash and Wenger will be hoping for a repeat of the north Londoners’ 2-0 home league win in November.

“These guys are winners,” he said of his Arsenal side, who added of last weekend’s big reverse: “When they lose in that way believe me they are hurt.

“When you can put things right, you want an opportunity to do that and we have an opportunity.”

Wenger knows his side cannot afford another devastating start against a Liverpool side that have scored 13 goals in their last four Premier League outings.

“We opened ourselves up because we had no choice,” the Frenchman said of last weekend’s match at Anfield.

“We were caught with two set pieces early on and that explains the pattern of the game.”

He added: “I do not want to look for excuses but [they had] two set pieces, two goals. The first two goals.

“You’re 2-0 down, away from home against a team that has potential to go forward and a crowd behind them and you absolutely have to score three goals.”

Arsenal will be without Santi Cazorla, who was struck down with illness yesterday, but they are boosted by the return from suspension of holding midfielder Mathieu Flamini.

Wenger said: “He gives us a balance between offence and defence, especially when [Mikel] Arteta is not there, because Arteta has a tactical brain and Flamini is tactically good as well, so you always need one of the two.”

The Gunners responded to their 5-1 thrashing with a hard fought 0-0 draw against champions Manchester United on Wednesday in which German international Lukas Podolski did not feature.

The attacker’s return from injury has proven slow but Wenger said: “He’s getting better now.”

The Frenchman added: “He will be at the game on Sunday. He’s an exciting player who always gives you hope that he can score goals. At the moment we miss that.”

Wenger also revealed that Bacary Sagna, who is out of contract in the summer, is not yet close to signing a new deal as reported if foreign media this week.

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