Arsenal were punished earlier in the week for their slow start against Watford, losing essential points and damaging their title hopes.

The team were 2 – 0 down after just 13 minutes and couldn’t come back from the early set back.

After the match manager Arsene Wenger said, “We missed our first half. On the mental front, we were not ready for the challenges. We were dominated in too many duels. We paid for it because we just didn’t start sharp enough. It happens sometimes and you are not punished but we today were punished.”

The team has had a number of poor starts since the end of the winter break. They concede two quick goals at Bournemouth before battling back for a 3 – 3 draw and Preston managed to score seven minutes into their third-round FA Cup tie.

Now Wenger says that he wants his side to respond with victory at Chelsea later on today. Arsenal are 9 points behind Chelsea and a victory at Stamford Bridge today would be a significant boost to their title hopes.

Speaking about the match Wenger said that the team must “respond to our disappointment” and “produce a good performance”.

When asked whether Tuesday’s result was a missed opportunity with Chelsea dropping points at Liverpool, the Frenchman added “Of course but you make your league position with your own performances, not the other results. The other results only come once you have done what you had to do.”

The team certainly can’t afford a slow start against Chelsea but in three of their last four games at Stamford Bridge they have been trailing at half-time. Nonetheless, if they can overcome this trend then they have a real chance of keeping their title hopes alive.