Joe: Room For Improvement

Joe Cole admits that the team, as a whole unit, must improve on their defending.

While the commitment was there for all to see against Arsenal on Saturday in the wake of the 4-0 defeat at Newcastle, Joe hints there was a certain amount of "panic" as Arsenal forced their way back into the game from 2-0 down.

"We have got to be stronger mentally, in terms of defending as a team," he stresses, "but it is not just about the back four but the midfield and attackers as well.

"I am certainly not having a go but we need more of a killer instinct as a side defensively as it seems the panic sets in."

Ironically, Joe opened his account for the season from midfield after playing up front against Newcastle with Fredi Kanoute and Paolo Di Canio absent, and he adds:

"I have been working on the shooting all summer and I knew the goals would come eventually; I'd like to get eight, I'd better not set a target!

"But I want to get more goals and I think I made a few chances on Saturday as well.

"It was nice to get on the score sheet early but I would have been happier with three points; I am gutted we didn't hold on to win the game."

At least, though, Joe can smile about the improvement in the performance and he adds:

"We played some good stuff, and that was a proper midfield performance, not what people saw on TV on Monday.

"There will be games when players aren't playing well, but that is when you have to grind out a performance.

"Then, on days like Saturday, we were on fire and passing the ball well, though Jermain Defoe did fantastically well to get a poor pass from me to make the second goal!"

Joe is rarely involved in controversy, but following the penalty he won there was a certain amount of pushing and shoving in the aftermath - which led to Patrick Vieira getting booked.

"It was nothing really, but tempers can fray in football and you have to stand up for yourself in situations like that."

He insists it should have been a penalty and adds:

"I cut inside on my left foot and it sort of opened up; I had a little wriggle in the box and someone clipped my ankles.

"I felt hands all over me as well, so I don't know what got me."

Joe's performance was all the more remarkable in that his training schedule has - once again - been disrupted early on by injury.

He reveals:

"I didn't train in the week; I had a groin injury even before the Newcastle game, but hopefully it will clear up in a few days' time.

"It is just a little niggle which was starting to stiffen up against Arsenal which is why I was brought off as a precaution.

"I had never started a preseason before this time, which meant I was always playing catch up, but hopefully everything will be okay."

As for the England situation, with the first post-World Cup squad named next week, Joe says:

"I learnt so much there and I want to get more involved with England.

"I am not going to push David Beckham away from the right, but I can play anywhere in the midfield, and I hope to give the manager something to think about."