Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has told Sky Sports how the criticism of manager Arsène Wenger and the team has left the squad determined to end the season on a high.
The towering German centre back hasn't played for the Gunners since March 13th when they lost at home to Watford in the FA Cup, but he insists now is the time for his side to stick together:
"There have always been rumours and always been criticism, but the group is always strongest when we stick to each other."
The 31-year-old World Cup winner has seen his first-team opportunities diminish over the past month, with Wenger seeming to prefer the pace of Gabriel Paulista, but he remains a key figure in the dressing room and is one of the few vocal Arsenal players within the group.
The former Werder Bremen man went on to say how he has experienced difficult times at Arsenal before, and how they have made the Gunners stronger as a group:
"We went through a difficult period in my time at Arsenal in these years, and we always came back stronger. The one thing we missed out was to be consistent over the season."
Arsenal face West Bromwich Albion at The Emirates tonight and will be desperate to return to winning ways. Manchester United's victory over Crystal Palace last night has put more pressure on the Gunner's chase for Champions League qualification, with the gap between the two now just one point.
The North London outfit do, however, have a chance to leap-frog Manchester City into third in the table with a win tonight, and that surely now has to be a realistic target for Wenger's men.