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Arsenal star feels squad is strong enough after defender joins Gunners

22:31 04 February 2015

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker applauds the home fans

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker applauds the home fans

EMPICS Sport

Captain Per Mertesacker believes Arsenal now have strength in depth following the recent arrival of fellow defender Gabriel Paulista

The Gunners shelled out a fee in the region of £11m to sign the Brazilian centre-back, who was an unused substitute in their 5-0 hammering of Aston Villa, from Villareal.

And Mertesacker – who has played alongside three different central defensive partners this season – welcomed the increased competition for places, which has also been helped by the emergence of younger players such as Bellerin, Francis Coquelin and Chuba Akpom.

“We suffered a lot at times with injuries,” said the Arsenal defender. “We want a very deep squad, and we look much better now.

“We have that competition in our team and have an addition with a centre-back now, so I think we have a deep and good squad at the moment.

“He [Gabriel] is a talent and I think we will get him to the level he needs because he has that potential. From my point of view, it is very promising because we were short at the back, especially in the centre position.

“We had to change so many positions. It was needed to get everyone going and keep him on his natural position is very important.

“When you look at our bench [against Villa], everyone could have played. The talent, who were unlikely to play a part this season, have played an absolutely fantastic role and will get the experience now.

“That is really important, when there is an injury crisis, they can step up and can have a real impact. You could see that they are able to do that.”

Now Mertesacker is focused on maintaining Arsenal’s recent upturn in form by leading them to victory in Saturday’s north London derby at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham currently sit just two points behind their neighbours in sixth place and Mertesacker added: “We have a very important away game. We are very close to each other in the league.

“Last season we did quite well at White Hart Lane, so we will try to repeat that. Now they have a new manager, there has been change in the squad and it will be a good game.”

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