Almunia looking for 'real Arsenal'

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Manuel Almunia has called on his team-mates to find the "real Arsenal" as the Gunners bid to get their inconsistent Barclays Premier League campaign back on track in the second half of the season.

Arsenal will see in the new year in fourth place in the league, 10 points behind leaders Liverpool, while injuries to the likes of Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas and Tomas Rosicky continue to cast a cloud over the Emirates Stadium.

"We have shown good character, but we still have a little more to go to find the real Arsenal," said Almunia. "The main thing is to look for our identity, our way, our character that gave this club all their titles and trophies."

He added: "For whatever reason we lost our way, our character and the way we play on the pitch. We need to re-find our spirit and our desire to win games."

Almunia also believes William Gallas is still the real leader of Arsenal despite having been stripped of the captaincy.

With the Frenchman's successor, Fabregas, now sidelined, the armband has passed to Almunia who believes the form of Gallas could be key in the second half of the season.

Almunia insists the inspiration still comes from Gallas and cites the manner in which Arsenal players celebrated Gallas' winning goal against Portsmouth on Sunday as evidence that there are no lingering problems over the defender's autobiography in which he questioned his team-mates' bravery and accused one Arsenal player of disrupting morale.

Almunia said: "William is a very good professional. When he was captain he would fight for the team, in every aspect.

"He is a real winner and has a strong character. But we are on William's side - everyone supports him. I have a very good relationship with him and I was very happy for him to score.

"He has shown that he is an unbelievable professional. He is a player with more trophies than anyone else in the team - everyone has to respect that. He has won the World Cup and I have so much respect for him."

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Premier League
Manuel Almunia
Tomas Rosicky
William Gallas
Theo Walcott

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