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Bould takes blame for Gunners' fresh defensive frailty

STEVE BOULD, the Arsenal assistant manager, has accepted the blame for the team's sudden defensive frailty over the past week and admitted they had suffered something of a hangover in last night's performance following the defeat against Chelsea.

Arsenal did eventually secure what Bould described as a "great result" in beating Olympiakos 3-1, but second-half goals from Lukas Podolski and Aaron Ramsey camouflaged a nervy defensive performance, particularly during the first half.

"We looked a bit nervy and we improved second half," said Bould. "It's a results industry and we ground it out. Without being fantastic we've had a great result.

"Getting beaten on Saturday may have knocked our confidence a bit. We're hoping that's gone and we get back on track. We kicked the game off then looked a bit nervous. I think the result from the weekend drained us. We lost a bit of confidence."

Asked specifically about the defence, Bould said: "Down to me, isn't it? We will look at it and try to correct it. After three clean sheets there was only one way to go. The goals against us in the main have been set pieces which I think we can improve on. I think we're doing OK."

An impressive performance was delivered at left back, however, by Kieran Gibbs, who was sought out after the match by the England manager Roy Hodgson.

Gibbs and Hodgson were deep in conversation for several minutes, although Gibbs is still probably behind Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines and Ryan Bertrand in the England pecking order.

Hodgson did not tell Gibbs whether he would be in the squad that he announces tomorrow for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.


"I have to wait and see," said Gibbs. "My fitness issues were my main concern and I have kept myself fit this season. That is the most important thing, if I can keep fit and get stronger. If I stay injury free, I'm positive."

Another big positive last night for Arsenal was the performance of Gervinho, who has now scored five goals in his last five games in his new role as the main centre forward. Bould would not be drawn on comparisons with how Thierry Henry also developed from a winger into a striker, but does expect Gervinho to continue to improve in that attacking position. "If he gets anywhere near Thierry Henry, we'll take that all day long," said Bould. "He's learning his trade there and doing OK.

"He's scoring goals. His confidence is sky high and his link play is improving. He's a danger with his pace and movement.

"I think good players play anyway. Whether left wing, right wing, centre forward. I'm sure there is more to come. I don't think he has played there an awful lot. He has improved with every game."

Bould is also hopeful that Per Mertesacker, who became the fourth Arsenal player to go down with a virus in recent weeks, will have recovered for Saturday's trip to West Ham. "He was ill this morning," former Arsenal defender Bould said. "He has a bit of a virus I believe so that's where he is at. We're hoping he is fit for the weekend.

"I am told it is a different virus each time so I don't know if it's in-house, I've got no idea. We've had about four of them ill over the period of about two weeks."

The picture is looking less rosy for Olympiakos as they sit bottom of Group B with no points from their opening two matches. "The result doesn't represent how Olympiakos played," said manager Leonardo Jardim. "I thought we played well."