Arsenal are going to Wembley on Saturday for their second FA Cup semifinal in as many years, and Per Mertesacker has been comparing the attitude of the squad ahead of both games. Last years game against Wigan turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected and the Gunners only went through on penalties in the end, but Mertesacker feels that this year things should be a little easier. “We felt [pressure] last season a lot,” he told Arsenal.com. “No one expected us to lose, for Wigan to go through and that will be the case again.
“We are more prepared but you are never perfectly prepared. There will be different situations and the team will have to grow in the match again, we will have to face the expectations and pressure.
“But with our level of confidence and with the team in good shape at the moment, I’m very confident. The energy is really great in the team, we have a fantastic squad and the most important thing is that feeling.”
Mertesacker was a key player last season, scoring the equaliser near the end after giving away the original penalty that put Arsenal on the back foot. “That was really strange for me,” he said. “To foul a player when we got the penalty against us, I then had to put something right at the other end.
“That was really important because we created chance after chance and it looked like we could have played 1,000 minutes without scoring, so I had to put something right. I put something in my head of, ‘Now it is your turn’ and I kept going like that.
“Finally it happened, we went through to penalties, and Lukasz Fabianski had a great day and saved two. It was good at the end, and really exciting for a lot of fans – they were absolutely buzzing.”
Arsenal fans are certainly used to nail-biting finishes and that game (and the Final!) left a lot of Gooners drained emotionally by the drama, but I certainly hope that Mertesacker is right and we don’t suffer the heart attacks from last season. On form we should already be in the Final, so lets make this one a little easier shall we?