Arsenal Debate – The Mertesacker question…..

Speed Vs Intelligence – the curious case of Mertesacker? by ED

Let me address the obvious elephant in the room, Per is slow.. and It is often debated as to whether this makes him a liability to the Arsenal team. I mean there are numerous times (and I am sure I’m not alone on this one) where there were clenched buttocks whenever Mertesacker was put in a one on one situation with numerous attacking forwards in the league, and logic would dictate that Per would lose those battles. Although people do highlight his experience of being in situations like that does make him a force to be reckoned with, his positioning (not to mention his long legs) so often has been an impressive factor in being able to neutralise threats.

I don’t mean to blow our own trumpets but the notion of an attacking fullback was an unheard of concept in the Premier league.. I mean defenders getting forward during open play and not set pieces, who would have ever imagined the likes of Nigel Winterburn and Stuart Pearce ‘breezing’ past players on the wings, overlapping midfielders and producing pint point and precise crossing to the strikers up front or even better yet taking on defenders and scoring … Doesn’t sound right to the ear, does it? Then along came Arsene who changed the ‘English game’ of lumping it up to the big man up front (aka route One football) he introduced arguably two of the best left backs ever to have played in the premier league Ashley Cole (The original Judas) and Gael Clichy. With defenders going forward there is always a risk of getting hit on the counter, often left exposed at the back, we have often been criticised for our ability to maintain discipline at the back and it has so often been because we’ve been out of shape leaving too many holes and so often leaving defenders in a position where they have to fend for themselves.

The question I pose to you all is with the likelihood that Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal may be our starting fullbacks for next season (Let’s be honest, they are fantastic fullbacks, in the modern sense that they get forward and do contribute to Arsenal’s attacking effort, but when it comes to defending there are a few concerns). Are we going to continue to rely on Per’s experience (which he has accumulated during his time at Arsenal and in the league), or is it time that we started considering other options – because he is limited by his ability, he’s not getting any faster any time soon… You couple that with the wealth of forwards the premier league is blessed with in general, you begin to realise how much of a problem that poses.

Eddie D

Tags Clichy Mertesacker


  1. Per may be slow but he is experienced and has other strengths like positional play.

    He also works very well with Koscielny

    That said Gabriel should be given more opportunities to prove himself And fight for starting spot.

    But I am happy for Koscielny and Per to start.

    1. You said it all, time will tell… And I know his (gabriel’s) time will come sooner or latter, am so excited with our well covered defence, RB_Bel or deb?? Ans: any1
      LB_Mon or gib?? Ans: mon, but gibs too is ok
      CB_Kos?? Ans: YES
      CB_per or gab?? Ans: any1 for now.
      Plus our midfield is almost same even though there’s more automatic tickets Santi_Mesut,Alexis_____??
      Centre forward????????????? Ans: no comment.

    2. Chambers and Gabriel look likely to be our center backs in the next few years unless we make any new signings. This will likely be Mers last year. Back to Germany. Thanks BFG!

    3. Per had a great season for us, he only sucked against Monaco and again who didn’t? He finished the season very strong and performed very well. But slowly its time for Gabriel to get his chance. It’s always great to have competition for one position and we have a healthy competition in defence. Great for us. I think we have one of the better defences in the bpl.

  2. Also don’t rule out Debuchy. Debuchy is Quality RB and will give Bellerin a fight for starting 1st as RB.

    1. Its the other way round pal, hector will give debuchy a fight for starting place..otherwise debuchy>hector

      1. Hector is the better option now and in the future.
        We need to sell Debuchy, so we can get Cech another head cover. #ProtectTheHead #TrimTheFat #WarChest

  3. I love Mert, but for me he can’t be Arsenal’s starting CB. It really pains me to remember crucial loses last year when we were playing well in a game, and a quick counter against us and Mert was no where to be found. Home to Hull, away to Swansea, home to Man U, home to Monaco, away to Stoke, it wasn’t the he was having a bad game, he was a liability. I really don’t fancy our chances of coming out on top when it’s Hazard vs Mert, Sterling/Aguero vs Mert … even Rooney/Di Maria vs Mert.
    We play a high-risk high-reward offensive game, so we need incredibly capable and reliable CBs at the back, for all the the talk about buying a CF or even DM … The main priority for me to compete for the title would be getting a CB, unless Gabriel is going to be that man (that tackle on Lukaku was a great preview of his ability)

    1. But Kos plays better with BFG beside him. Watch matches that Kos played with BFG and the ones with Without you will get what I mean. That is why Kos is fantastic in Arsenal shirt and slightly below form in France shirt. Noticed that? We still need BFG.

      1. I like their partnership for sure and think it’s very good, but I don’t think it’s an elite partnership, and the way we usually play we need that … teams don’t get a lot of chances against arsenal, but usually they are very good scoring chances off fast counters, and we need to have the right people to deal with that. Mert is great when we are defending as a unit and there is not too much space, but when we play teams that are sitting back and that are fast and counter attacking, he just cant get it done. Look at the impact of upgrading from Arteta to Coq had on us, same dreaded wenger formation, just an upgrade in player ability. I want Mertesacker to be part of the team, play lots of games, but not be our starting CB …

  4. BFG has to go…

    the fans have decided and its final….

    everyday there will still be an article…BFG is slow, ageing, weak, etc…….

    he needs to go…..

  5. Speed vs. Intelligence???? LOL!!!
    What’s that now? Something like that folklore of the tortoise and the hare???

  6. Guys, here’s what I’ve been thinking: Indeed Benzima is a very good striker and one that every club will like to have, I’d be very happy if we got him; but I think Reus would make a better striker for us than Benz. I somehow prefer Reus. What do u think?

    1. I think about 95% of us would prefer Reus over Benzema. However that said 1 thing that just bugs me is Reus injury concerns. We know that Arsenal players are always tackled more physically than most other teams. and secondly Reus (IF) plays for us, bet on him being targeted like a bullseye for a horror tackle every other match. and he would be injured for God knows how long. Thats my ONLY concern.

      Also do note, Reus might prefer R.Madrid over Arsenal for many reasons, who knows. And please dont say his Idol plays for us etc. Football transfers are not like that anymore.

      1. @Dawin, I think u are right, Reus seems prone to injury and the botanical name for Arsenal is injurious arsenus (yeah, I made that up). Urm, yeah, Benz seems better when it comes to physical fitness and balance. Just that Reus seems faster and smarter.

  7. Meet has experience and good positional sense but no pace and worryingly poor mobility. It’s surely a case of Mert this term being rotated with Gabriel (as I imagine Koz will at times for a rest) depending on the type of team we are playing. He’s still got an important role to play, for which he retired from intl football so that he could give us 100%.

  8. he’s a great guy both in the dressing room and outside..his pairing with kos is always edging results in most cases.. no denying fact that with his abilities he still have some limitations so most fans see the bad side of him, i think we do that to almost all our players,we criticise them base on their flaws and fail to see how important their contribution is to the game. i’m ok with him staying there but not in matches that will need energy and pace,i say let him and gab battle it out,it’ll bring the best. i think competition is the reason our players are in form. you have nacho giving his best so gibbs wont take his place,same with bellerin and Debuchy, Ozil and Wilshere, and others,leaving the striker alone and thats why we do need someone Giroud will battle it out with to bring the best out of him and whoever we get,even if its Benzema. BFG and Gab will have an amazing season and so will the team. am standing behing BFG and the rest. #COYG

  9. I just signed in to laugh at the idea of Gael Clichy being one of the best left backs to have played in the Premier League.

  10. Wojciech Szczęsny is close to joining Roma who have reached an agreement with him & are now finalizing details with Arsenal not sure if it’s loan or permanent

  11. Are we talking about Mert again? 🙁
    It’s not just his lack of speed thats an issue.
    Yes his positonal play is good but he lacks speed, agility/mobility and for a big man he lacks bottle.
    Num erous times I’ve seen him pull out of aerial duels and 1-1 tackles, not what you need from a PL CB. Upgrade please, hoping 2015/2016 is the season for chambers and gabriel.

    Without a wall of defenders around him and his buddy Kos, Per is nothing.

  12. I think Mert shld stay for 2 mur seasons, he stil has sumfin to offer especially against “long ball” teams, since Mert came we slowly became less vulnerable to crosses…….bt I definately will rotate him wit Gabriel, hopefully nxt season Gabriel wld av formd a gud partnership wit Kos

  13. Koscelny isn’t awesome – but he’s not vocal and doesn’t shape control the Defence- I think that’s why Wenger likes Per so much-

    And why they work so well as a partnership. That also explains why we saw so little of Gabriel last season. I suspect Wenger needs Habriel not only to defend well but be vocal enough to marshal the back line – that will take time.

    This also explains the Cech purchase- yes of course he’s a great goalkeeper- but possibly just as valuable is his ability to captain the Defence – particularly as Per is less of a fixture-


  14. I believe the BFG, much like Arteta, still has a role to play. I don’t believe it’s against teams 1-9/11 or teams 18-20, but definitely in between. I believe in both cases we need the speed, agility, and athleticism, as well as footballing ability of Gabriel and LeCoq. I do believe that both BFG and Arteta’s experience and ability to lead the team potentially against some of the lower midtable teams where we could potentially struggle to switch on could be very useful, as Per has proven in the past. Sometimes his lack of pace gets exposed against the bigger and fast teams, but his experience and positioning shines through against the teams where we dominate the ball and they sit in a bit.

    I also agree with the notion that the BFG’s ability to lead verbally lead the back line is important as well. LK6 not having to do that free’s him up to play a bit more instinctively, while Per focuses on the organization. If Gab’s english isn’t up to doing that, and if Arsene doesn’t feel that Cech has a good hold on it, than we may see more BFG than we may want to.

    All that said, I think he’ll have a purpose to serve. Arteta as well, but he should be third choice, while Flamini heads out the door.

  15. There is a considerable problem with Mert. Mert relies on reading the play and intercepting the path of a player. If he gets squared up he will 9/10 times take the option to attempt a tackle rather than track because he can’t. Now luckily those long legs and quick reactions make him hard(ish) to beat, but you see against top opposition he gets found wanting.

    I hate to do this but our worst losses this year always came when Mert came up against a striker who wanted to play on him. I only have to think back to the Monaco game and I just want to slap anyone who says that Mert has good positional sense. 2 of the goals came directly from a total lack of danger sniffing. Once a player beats Mert, Mert stays beat. He doesn’t do recovery runs at all. Both goals would have been avoided (or made tougher) if Mert had simply got into position but instead he jogged back to the total wrong area. Why do I bring this up? Because it’s why Kos is always having to mop up pieces. Mert gets beat and Kos HAS to be the guy getting back because Mert never does.

    As part of a unit Mert offers alot. He keeps us in good starting positions, he adds aerial presence and he is willing to take a risk on winning a good interception. The problem is quality opposition will ALWAYS use that gap against us and it’s cost us time and again.

    Then you have the other factor. NOT related to his defending or speed but his inability to be a ball player. He is slow and languid on the ball, often allowing opposition to reshape even if he is the guy who’s meant to be moving the ball across the pitch. He has no urgency in his play and no quality to play anything more than a short ball. It’s a total killer when our team relies on fast passing and a certain tempo he always disrupts.

    I’m not saying Mert is a bad player. I think he’s done a wonderful job for us. But there is room for improvement and looking at our best 11 he is in my opinion our weakest link. I’m picking fault because we’re being invited to analyse him – in general I still think he’s PL standard, just maybe not the standard you’d expect from the Champion centre back. I don’t advise selling either way – my advice is bring Gabby in slowly, especially against fast counter teams!

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