Search

Arsenal star admits defeats at Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton ruined title dream

13:19 29 April 2014

Liverpool

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (right) and Arsenal's Per Mertesacker battle for the ball

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Per Mertesacker admits Arsenal’s slow starts away to top-four rivals “killed” their hopes of maintaining a title challenge throughout the season.

Apart from a brief spell just before Christmas, the Gunners headed the Premier League table for a five-month period between September and February.

But a 5-1 thrashing by Liverpool at Anfield prompted their slide – and further heavy defeats away to Chelsea and Everton tipped Arsene Wenger’s team into a battle just to hold on to fourth place.

Although the Gunners are just one result away from confirming their spot in next season’s Champions League qualifiers, Mertesacker concedes that lessons must be learned before they can harbour serious title ambitions.

“Of course everyone wanted us to get further up [the table], especially the fans,” said the German defender. “We were top of the league for a long time and everyone dreamt about maybe getting the title.

“But it takes more than just to stay at the top until the winter period. I think we couldn’t afford those away games against the big teams, so we didn’t deserve to be in the first three spots.

“That is something for next year that we have to manage much better. I think those away games killed us this year and hopefully we can learn from that.

“We have to learn quickly how to play and how to defend early in those away games, the first 20 to 25 minutes when you go there and they try to get you on the break.

“I think it was very similar in each game – the first 20 minutes we lost some balls in the middle of the park and they got us on the break. That’s something we have to look at next year.”

Despite the disintegration of their title bid, Arsenal have responded well in recent weeks and Monday’s 3-0 win against Newcastle was their third straight victory.

That makes the Gunners firm favourites to finish fourth, a position that could be confirmed even before they face West Brom in their final home game of the season on Sunday (kick-off 1.30pm).

Everton will be unable to catch Wenger’s side if they lose to Manchester City on Saturday, and Mertesacker feels Arsenal’s current form bodes well for their prospects next season.

“We play on Sunday so we have to wait, but we have it in our own hands and we want to secure the fourth spot,” he added. “We just have to think about the next game.

“The possibility to secure Champions League football was another test for us.

“Last year we managed to deal with an even more difficult situation – with 10 games to go, no-one expected us to be in the top four.

“This year, with a couple of injuries, we struggled heavily but we regrouped very well and how we managed this situation was maybe more important than last year.

“Everyone questioned us and our football qualities and I think the way we came back as a team makes us stronger for the future. We have improved a lot and we’re in good shape.”

Latest Islington Sports News

Yesterday, 18:56
Sandun Dias hit 85 for Highgate. Pic: Max Flego

Highgate hauled themselves out of the drop zone again as the weather helped them to secure a narrow victory at Enfield in Division Two of the Middlesex County League.

Yesterday, 13:54
Jordan Gregory bowls for North London. Pic: Max Flego

North London skipper Sam Bardon is optimistic that victories in the two remaining games will give his side a good chance of promotion from Middlesex County League Division Three.

Yesterday, 12:44
Liam O'Driscoll was the pick of North Middlesex's bowlers with three wickets, and he then hit 53 off 58 balls with the bat. Pic: Max Flego

North Middlesex extended their remarkable winning run to eight matches but remain second with just two games left in the title race after leaders Teddington also came out on top.

Mon, 17:47
North London CC's Bob Pedersen (right) with Middlesex's Sam Robson at Lord's

North London CC’s Bob Pedersen received the Heartbeat of the Club prize as the annual Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards were held at Lord’s.

Mon, 16:55
Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (right) beats Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez to the ball during the sides' 0-0 draw

Deep along the corridors of the welcoming King Power Stadium is a room manager Claudio Ranieri uses to welcome friends, dignitaries and journalists. On the walls are 20 tasteful black and white photographs of all the bosses in the Premier League.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he would spend £300m

Arsenal Wenger told frustrated Arsenal fans after the Gunners’ frustrating 0-0 draw with reigning Premier League champions Leicester City at the King Power Stadium he would ‘spend £300 million’ on the right player.

Leicester City v Arsenal

Arsenal’s stuttering start to the season continued at the home of the reigning champions Leicester City this evening with a 0-0 draw at the King Power Stadium.

Friday, August 19, 2016
Harry Podmore in T20 action for Middlesex

Harry Podmore says the success of his contemporaries at Middlesex this season has helped motivate him to make his mark in four-day cricket.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

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.

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