Per Mertesacker did not start a game for Arsenal right until the end of the last campaign but due to injuries and suspensions Wenger was forced to play him in the FA Cup Final against Chelsea and he ended up as our hero!
But the BFG announced that this would be his last season as a player and we expected him to kept as a reserve while he learned his future coaching duties, but due to injuries and confidence issues with both Rob Holding and Calum Chambers, Wenger has had no choice but to keep Mertesacker in the first Starting XI, while Mo Elneny has had to cover in central defence for the reserves.
Now, though, Holding is slowly regaining his confidence and fitness, and after a few games in the lesser competitions he should be now ready to return to the First team and admits he is gaining in strength, despite the disappointment of losing his EPL starting spot. “It’s part of the game and you’re going to come across it,” he said. “You’re not going to have a career that’s going to go straight up to the point where you’re at the top of wherever you want to be.
“You have ups and downs and it’s how we react to them that counts. With the staff around, they’ve been helpful, we’ve cracked on in the gym and out on the pitch too. It’s about getting your confidence back and getting back to how you’re playing, and where you want to be going.”
Even Per Mertesacker himself has been impressed with The England U21 defender, and also thinks he has been improving. I think he learns a lot,” Mertesacker recently said. “He’s consistently learning, he wants to learn and is trying to make things happen for himself.
“I think he’s coming right back. In your second year, that’s the normal struggle you go through. Sometimes it’s hard to explain, because he just wants to keep going. It doesn’t always go like that.
“I’m quite happy with his recent form, because he’s stepped up again and tried to prioritise. Sometimes you have to make sure you win your duels and play the simple pass, instead of playing that final ball. Sometimes you need to know what you do as a defender, play without mistakes at the start and even when you get more confidence, you can play those balls.
“He understands what it means to be a professional footballer. You have those dips and those situations where you know it’s going to be difficult, but just move on from them. He’s done that quite well.
“He wants to take responsibility and in moments of frustration it’s hard to come back from them, but he understand that it’s a journey and that’s what I like about him.”
Holding had a great run when he was first introduced to the First team as part of our new back 3 last season, and do you think he should now be returned to the starting line-up?
I’m looking for a good performance from the youngster again tonight, and I hope to see him back in the first team as soon as possible and let Chambers replace him in the reserve side for a while. Do you agree?