Lambert tells Martin to forget costly error
Paul Lambert is in no doubt Russell Martin will bounce back from his decisive error for Arsenal's match winner – ruthlessly punished by Premier League leading scorer Robin van Persie.
Martin excelled during the opening period with a succession of last ditch goal-line blocks, but the Scotland international was dispossessed in the lightning counter that ended with van Persie slotting a cool second just prior to the hour mark.
Lambert was delighted with how his men acquitted themselves against the perennial Champions League qualifiers, but acknowledged van Persie 13th goal of the campaign offered another stark reminder of the fine margins at the highest level.
'You are never going to keep them out for 90 minutes, never,' he said. 'But the winning goal is the thing that hurts. Listen, you don't need me to sit here and say anything. Everybody saw it.
'Russell's general game was excellent but when you play against those type of players at this level you have to make as little mistakes as you can. That is the job. He is there to defend. That is the thing and he will be disappointed. When he looks back at it I'm sure he'll feel he should have released it quicker than he did.
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'Russell is a great pro. I'm sure he'll pick himself up and go again. That was our mistake. That should never have happened. That should never have transpired. It did, but when you have somebody like that on top of his game then you are going to get punished. That was the disappointing thing. It's both ends of the pitch where you have to be clinical and decisive. They are a right good side but the pleasing thing was we were always in the game.'
Lambert had no complaints at the outcome of a game Arsenal always controlled despite Steve Morison's early opener. The Gunners were a major threat down both flanks with Theo Walcott and Gervinho a productive supply line for the excellent van Persie.
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'They are a top side,' he said. 'They are in the Champions League every year; they were in a final not that long ago. They have some world class players, no doubt, and probably one of the best strikers going around at the minute.
'He is scoring for fun but his general touch and his awareness around the box is top, top level. You can see why they call it the top four or top six. They are top players.
'You have to have realism about what we are playing against. You are up against a football club that is huge, even if the personnel is different the philosophy is the same. They deserved to win the game.
'This is another learning curve for us. Arsenal were better on the day. I always thought we could win and we got off to a good start, but Arsenal came back strongly.'
Lambert disputed Arsene Wenger's initial contention in his post-match press call Morison manhandled German international Per Mertsacker in the build up to the Welshman's third goal in his last three Premier League outings.
'If that was the case then there is some decisions that we never got. That is the game,' he said. 'You do everything you can to win a goal. Whether Steve has pulled him back or not it's the referee call.
'I think he is playing at the top of his game at the minute. Morison is leading the line terrifically well for us. That role is a tough one to play, the lone striker. I said to the lads beforehand just to try and get a foothold to stay in the game as long as you can. We did that.
'Arsenal came at us really strong from the beginning but we got the goal which gave everybody belief – in the stadium and also amongst the players that perhaps we could do something – so you have to give them a lot of credit. We were always in the game right up until the last minute.'