A positive and optimistic view of Arsenal, the current campaign and the chances of Arsenal winning the Premier League title in next season might not carry as much weight when it comes from one of players in the Arsenal squad, but the reason suggested by Per Mertesacker for the struggles of the Gunners this season is the same one suggested earlier this week by the West Brom boss Tony Pulis, our awful injury record.
Pulis spoke about the number of key injuries that Arsene Wenger has had to cope with, as an earlier Just Arsenal post explained, but our German defender was much more specific in his own comments and pointed to the amazing effect and positive impact that our Chile international forward Alexis Sanchez can have on a game if he is fit and in form.
Our BFG also spoke in a Sky Sports report about being left out of the starting line up and insisted that he was not bitter about it and accepts this sort of thing as being part of team sport at the top level, despite the fact that he did not enjoy it and is relieved to have been in the team again on Thursday.
That game arguably saw the best we have seen from Alexis since he was ruled out with a hamstring problem in November and Mertesacker suggests that even though the team picked up a decent amount of points while the Chilean was in the treatment room it is clear that a club needs it’s best players to have a good chance of success.
He said, “There are a couple of things we missed, but he is obviously one.
“When he was out, I think the statistics were not that bad for us, I think we played 10 games without him and won seven. But obviously if he is on the pitch, he creates space always for other players because he draws so much attention and that is the key to any team.
“He is a key member of our team and, if he is fully fit, he makes the difference and that is always the case. During the time he was out, I think we had quite a good record, but over the whole season normally we need him healthy.
“He is the type of player who makes the difference and, even when he is in Chile playing two qualifiers, he will be back on track in the right time when having just two days’ rest in between. He is that type of player who gives everything to the team. Those team members are well appreciated.
“Obviously you are disappointed, but I will never drop the respect for anyone here, even when I’m not playing. I’ll keep working harder. It was a good time for me. If you change a little bit of your perspective, you see how other people feel.
“”But we have got 25 players, everyone wants to play and obviously the boss has got a lot of headaches with his selection. With players coming back, it is going to be tight and good competition. That is what we play for.”
Do you agree with the German that Arsenal can challenge for top honours as long as we don’t lose our top players to injury?