Arsenal are going to need leaders as well as top quality players this season. With injuries and a disrupted pre-season causing us difficulties at the start of the season, the Gunners are already playing catch up, but it is still early days and with players like Per Mertesacker in the squad, I am sure we will be alright.
Our Big Effin’ German turned 30 years old a couple of weeks ago, but Arsenal should still get plenty of service out of him at centre back, where age does not tend to cut a player’s career off quite as soon as other outfield players. But it is still a great boost for the club that Mertesacker has put the interests of club before country, despite the euphoria in Germany of their World Cup win in Brazil, as he told Arsenal Player.
The German defender said, “I reflected and last season was very tough. This season won’t be less intense so I needed a chance to rest and refuel. I want to push forward with the club now to show I can still improve.
“I realised over the last few years that the club really needs me and that was a big motivation to win something with them and then with Germany. Now I’m really focused to do even more with Arsenal.
“There’s even more respect and support here than I expected when I signed. This club has topped everything and I’m really proud to be part of it, especially after learning more about the fans and its history.
“As vice-captain I feel more responsibility for my work here and I want to achieve more in my next three years with Arsenal. One chapter has closed and the other one has opened even more, that’s how it feels for me.”
So not only has Mertesacker given Arsenal one less player to worry about picking up an injury on international duty, he has set a great example and showed his Arsenal team mates just how important the club is. In another Arsenal.com report the 30-year old reveals how much he tries to help the younger players improve and also that he encourages them to feel comfortable and not have to show too much respect to senior figures like himself. And this approach could prove to be a massive help to Arsenal and young players like Hector Bellerin who may be needed quite a bit in the coming weeks and months.
He said, “He’s a good addition to our squad and he can take his chance with Mathieu injured and Calum suspended. He’s got some great chances and he has to take them now because you never know what will happen in football.
“It’s tough to establish yourself as a young player at Arsenal as a lot of the positions have two players in, so it’s hard for the youngsters to impress in regular games.
“But we have to rely on our reserve players and it’s good to get a good relationship with them and try to give them some help. The most vital part is good communication on the pitch – they have to talk to me if there’s someone in my back.
“I have to encourage them to speak to me even though I’m 30 and have a lot of international caps. They have to be brave and be themselves. He needs to talk as well and that’s what I demand from him. He listens a lot and he’s a good guy, which gives him a good chance to be a regular pro at Arsenal.”
I love the attitude that Mertesacker shows both on and off the pitch and if some of his Arsenal team mates use him as an example, that can only be good for the club. Is our BFG becoming the new Mr. Arsenal?