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Critical time for Arsenal in bid for Champions League return, admits Jenkinson

Carl Jenkinson knows Arsenal are entering a crucial period in their season as they look to secure a return to Champions League football.

Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan shone for the hosts as the Gunners eased to a 5-1 victory over Bournemouth on Wednesday night to retain their place in the top four.

The pair both got on the scoresheet, with Lys Mousset pulling a goal back for Bournemouth only for Laurent Koscielny, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette to strike in the second half.

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Jenkinson also had a good evening as he made his first Premier League start for Arsenal start in over two years.

The 27-year-old was last named in a league starting line-up to face Manchester United on November 19, 2016 – 830 days before returning to the side under Unai Emery.

But, having been in and around the club since joining from Charlton in 2011, Jenkinson knows how important the next couple of months can be in defining a season – especially with their next two league fixtures coming against Tottenham and Manchester United.

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“It’s hugely important,” he said of the upcoming run.

“Towards the end of the season is a very critical time because the competitions are coming to an end and it’s about being consistent to get the results.

“I think we’re doing that really well at the minute but we’ve got some big games coming up. It’s a very important time for us but as players, we all know that. Our focus is on doing a good job and doing what we need to do.

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“I think it’s a very easy thing to say but we’re looking at one game at a time. That’s the way we’ve got to look at things and it’s the way the manager looks at things.”

Bournemouth, meanwhile, have now lost their last nine games on the road and conceded 28 goals in the process.

Midfielder Dan Gosling, who saw a deflected effort strike the crossbar as the Cherries searched for a way back into the contest, questioned whether the players are currently being “brave” enough to play their natural game.

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“At the moment it is just not good enough,” he said.

“I don’t know the reasons right now, we are going to have to review this game and see where the goals come from but, from our point of view, they felt very soft.

“Whether we are not brave enough to play I don’t know, but it wasn’t good enough at all.”