Published; 30 January, 2017
by STEVE BARNETT
IF the Gunners overcome the odds and somehow manage to land their first Premier League title since 2004, it could well be thanks to one of Al Pacino’s rousing speeches – well, kind of.
That’s because Theo Walcott says manager Arsene Wenger gave a speech reminiscent of the film Any Given Sunday to inspire Arsenal’s players in their title challenge.
That could explain the never-say-die attitude his players showed on Sunday when Alexis Sanchez cheekily chipped home a 98th minute penalty to earn the north Londoners a 2-1 victory over Burnley at the Emirates Stadium.
It’s not the first time that Arsenal have secured points in dramatic fashion in recent weeks.
Away at Bournemouth they found themselves 3-0 down before goals from Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Lucas Perez saw them battle back to rescue an unlikely point.
Walcott hinted that his boss was channelling Pacino’s portrayal of Tony D’Amato, head coach of the Miami Sharks in the 1999 Oliver Stone movie, when delivering his own inspirational speech.
“He did a speech the other day,” Walcott told Arsenal’s YouTube channel. “I won’t be able to do the speech because it was that good. It genuinely reminded me of that film Any Given Sunday and I actually said that to him!
“I was a bit embarrassed and didn’t know if he’d seen the film, but he showed his passion and how long it’s been since we’ve won the title.
“He wants it like all of his players. You can tell he really wants it which is really good to see.”
Meanwhile Shkodran Mustafi, who scored his first goal for Arsenal in the win over Burnley on Sunday, says the players “deserve credit” for the battling spirit they are showing.
“Playing at home to Burnley, you want to take the three points,” he said.
“If you want to stay up there winning is something you have to do. And that is what we did.
“When Burnley scored the equaliser I looked in the eyes of the other players and you can see we never give up.
“In other games it looks like we aren’t going to come back, or it’s going to be a draw, but then we score in the last second just because everyone believes in it.
“I think you have to give credit to this team. It shows how much belief we have in ourselves and that we are going to go for it.”