Search

Arsenal interview: ‘Our confidence is rising’

15:59 10 October 2012

Arsenal

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker battles with West Ham's Andy Carroll during the Gunners' 3-1 win at Upton Park. Photo: Daniel Hambury/PA

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Per Mertesacker is Gunning for a better second season at the Emirates

Per Mertesacker and Vito Mannone combine to thwart West Ham's Andy Carroll during Arsenal's 3-1 win at Upton Park. Photo: Stephen Pond/PAPer Mertesacker and Vito Mannone combine to thwart West Ham's Andy Carroll during Arsenal's 3-1 win at Upton Park. Photo: Stephen Pond/PA

Per Mertesacker was probably glad West Ham weren’t in the Premier League last season.

After 90 minutes spent largely grappling with Andy Carroll and heading away crosses from his own six-yard box the big German looked shattered after Saturday’s win at Upton Park.

You sensed that if this game had been a year ago, when the new arrival from Werder Bremen was finding it tough to adapt to the English game, he would not have enjoyed the experience.

“When you know the Premier League after one year it’s much better and you feel more comfortable,” he admitted, before adding with a smile: “I have tried to develop my English too and communicate better at the back, and that helps a lot.”

Having arrived in August 2011 with more than 70 caps for Germany to his name, the expectations on Mertesacker were as lofty as the 6ft 7ins Hannover-born defender himself.

He doesn’t mind admitting that his debut season in north London did not really go as planned. Although he started 27 games in all competitions, an indifferent campaign was ended prematurely in February by an ankle injury.

“For me personally I would like to have a better season, without injuries, that will make the difference in the end,” said the 28-year-old. “After the injury last season, missing the Euros was very disappointing for me.

“Last year we reached third place but it was difficult and we want to keep focusing on our defence. We have to develop our defensive line after last season when we conceded too many goals.

“We haven’t conceded a lot of goals in open play this season, mostly [we have conceded] from set pieces so we want to keep concentrated on our defensive level because it is crucial for our season.”

Concentration was certainly needed on Saturday, when Mertesacker was at the centre of a rearguard recovery that saw West Ham puncture Arsenal’s resistance once, but not again in the second half when they piled the pressure on with the score at 1-1.

“We saw at the start that this would be a tough game, we felt it in the air,” said Mertesacker, for whom this was a first visit to the partisan bearpit of Upton Park.

“We had to fight a lot, especially in the second half and especially in defence, and on the headers which was vital. “It’s always good to win in front of an international break.

“We have good confidence and we showed it. It was tough but we didn’t let ourselves down. We needed this win to come back after the defeat against Chelsea.”

The Chelsea defeat is the one cause of regret at the Emirates from what has proved a satisfying opening phase to the season, being the only blemish in 10 games in all competitions.

It was the only Premier League game Mertesacker has not started, with Wenger’s choice to partner Laurent Koscielny and skipper Thomas Vermaelen resulting in an aerial deficiency that was highlighted by Chelsea scoring both their goals from set pieces.

Although the German was suffering from a virus, he was fit enough to be on the bench but is philosophical about the decision from his manager.

“The manager told us before the season that we have a good number of centre-backs and that he is convinced it will make us stronger and stronger. We have a lot of good players, maybe two players for every position.

“We have quite good confidence now and our dressing room is full of good lads. We are looking forward to every game and all the subs who came on on Saturday were fantastic, so we can feel our confidence rising up.

“We showed our ability to win and come back from behind. We try to be our best and you can see it is coming and everybody appreciates it.”

Certainly, Arsenal fans are appreciating Mertesacker a lot more this season, as are his team-mates, but he is aware a good start will mean little if it is not maintained.

“After a win it is easy to be together,” he laughed. “But after the defeat [to Chelsea] we knew that we could come back in such a way, especially away from home.

“For the centre-backs we are delighted to play and see our improvement. It is crucial for us that the defence is helping to win games. We will try to keep that in our minds all season.”

0 comments

Latest Islington Sports News

Yesterday, 07:14
Middlesex's Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan feels Middlesex’s impressive County Championship form has been a key factor in their recent improvement in white-ball cricket.

Friday, July 22, 2016
Dominic Ogbechie was given the Outstanding Individual Boy award at last weeks Camden Sport and Physical Activity Celebration night. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Already standing 6ft 1in tall at the tender age of 14, Highgate Harriers’ Dominic Ogbechie clearly has a knack for defying gravity – and the sky is the limit for the prodigious teenager.

Thursday, July 21, 2016
Eoin Morgan batting for Middlesex

Middlesex overcame Surrey in front of a record crowd at Lord’s to strengthen their hopes of reaching the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals.

Thursday, July 21, 2016
North Middlesex captain Tom Nicoll. Pic: Paolo Minoli

North Middlesex captain Tom Nicoll has entered his name into the Middlesex County League’s record books after scoring a century and taking eight wickets in a stunning individual display.

Thursday, July 21, 2016
Emmanuel Nmecha, 17 (left) riding a two seater bike with support worker Harold Bennett during a disability cycle session run by Pedal Power at Emirates Stadium

Many might think that when you’ve seen one bicycle, you’ve seen them all – but a Thursday morning visit to Emirates Stadium would certainly change your mind.

Thursday, July 21, 2016
Middlesex batsman Nick Gubbins

At this stage of the season, you want to make sure you’re still involved in all three competitions, and that’s certainly the case at Middlesex.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Isledon Wolves' Nicky Marshall on the attack in their friendly against Oxford United's academy side at Market Road

Isledon Wolves coach John Powles is hoping the Under-16s’ packed pre-season schedule could bring their star players to the attention of Football League scouts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Middlesex's Ryan Higgins

Ryan Higgins says a new mindset in the Middlesex dressing room this season has propelled them into the hunt for a NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final spot.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now