Almunia: Strong start essential to success

Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia says the Gunners must hit the ground running in 2009/10 if they are to stand any chance of finally breaking their trophy drought.

Arsene Wenger's side have now completed four campaigns without picking up some silverware since their 2005 FA Cup triumph at the Millennium Stadium.

And Spanish stopper Almunia insists the Emirates Stadium outfit must get off to a strong Premier League start if they want to prevent Manchester United from bagging a fourth consecutive league crown.

“Overall we needed to be more focused at the start of the season, if we had all been more involved with the mission at the start of the season, it could have been a better year for us," he said in the July edition of the club’s official magazine.

"In the last half of the season I think everyone realised what waas required and you could see the results.

"This is what we need to do from July this year, from the minute we get back for pre-season.”   Arsenal’s pre-season training began on Monday, with the Gunners scheduled to play their annual friendly against Barnet at Underhill on July 18th before leaving for their traditional pre-season training camp in Austria.

They then return to host the Emirates Cup at the beginning of August before concluding their programme with a tie against Valencia.

And Almunia was keen to stress the importance of the team’s pre-season schedule to their season.

“We need to make sure the group is together and focused after the break and to show our total commitment.

"I am sure that because we have the quality, next season will be much better than the one we have just finished.”

ARSENAL FANS! Check’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas Q&A Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas One on One Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry, Ian Wright Boy's A Bit Special Theo Walcott, Armand Traore Perfect XI Ian Wright What Happened Next? Gus Caesar, Peter Marinello And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan

Plus! Rate Arsenal players (and others) on Talentspotter