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Arsenal star hits out at Germany’s critics ahead of World Cup clash with France

Germany's Per Mertesacker Germany's Per Mertesacker

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
1:26 PM

Per Mertesacker has dismissed criticism of the German national team as they prepare for a crunch World Cup quarter-final clash with France on Friday.

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The Arsenal centre-back and his Germany team-mates drew detractors for their sluggish performance earlier this week, when they struggled to see off Algeria in extra time.

Gunners playmaker Mesut Ozil, whose overall performance was less than impressive, scored the goal that proved decisive in a 2-1 win to set up the Germans’ last eight meeting with France in Rio de Janeiro.

That is likely to pit Mertesacker directly against Arsenal team-mate Olivier Giroud, while fellow Gunner Laurent Koscielny may start at the heart of the French defence.

A frustrated Mertesacker responded to critical questions by asking: “Would you rather we played beautiful football but got knocked out?

“I don’t know what you want from me – do you think that Mickey Mouse teams are involved in the last 16? All that matters is we’re in the quarter-finals.”

Apart from the German contingent – also including Lukas Podolski, who missed the Algeria game through injury – and the French duo, Arsenal have just two representatives left in the World Cup.

Although club captain Thomas Vermaelen has been a peripheral figure in the Belgian side, Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell – who has yet to feature in a competitive match for the Gunners – has been anything but.

Campbell caught the eye in the Central Americans’ opening game, when he scored once and set up another in their 3-1 win over Uruguay, and has been an important player in their march to the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have announced that some of their first-team players will feature in a pre-season friendly against Conference South club Boreham Wood on Saturday July 19.

The FA Cup will be on display at the game, which kicks off at 3pm.

The Gunners then travel to New Jersey to take on a New York Red Bulls side including Thierry Henry the following Saturday.

Midfielder Chuks Aneke has signed for Belgian club Zulte Waregem after Arsenal decided not to offer him a new contract.

The 21-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Crewe, was one of four Academy players to be handed free transfers by the Gunners last week, along with forward pair Nicklas Bendtner and Ju Young Park.

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