Is England star right about Arsenal´s BFG problems?

There is no question that Arsenal suffered in the early stages of last season due to the World Cup hangover being felt by the Germany internationals in the side. Even though our centre back Per Mertesacker retired from international football after the tournament in Brazil, he has since admitted that it took around six months to get his mental and physical state right again.

So with his central defensive partner Laurent Koscielny missing a large chunk of games with his achilles tendon injury problem, we needed the German to be at his best and he wasn´t, which is why Arsene Wenger used the January transfer window to strengthen his back line by signing Gabriel.

And perhaps it was that period up until the new year that the former England and Man United defender Paul Parker was thinking about when he laid into our Big Flaming German on his blog, as reported by Parker is very disparaging about almost every aspect of Mertesacker´s game, also claiming that Arsenal will not be able to achieve our Premier League goal with the BFG in the starting line up.

He wrote, “I don’t think you can win the title if Per Mertesacker is in your starting XI. With or without the ball, he is a liability. Mertesacker isn’t comfortable on the ball and looks uneasy under pressure when he has to move it quickly.

“Defensively we’ve seen how many times people get in front of him at the near post; when he gets caught out he has no chance of recovery.

“You are asking a lot, for a team who wants to have a lot of possession, to have to rely on someone who doesn’t have a lot of pace. His positional sense is quite poor as well. He makes a few errors, he gives away a lot of penalties and gets booked for rash challenges.

“I’m not sure about Arsenal centrally at all but if you are going to replace one then it has to be Mertesacker. We don’t know enough about Gabriel just yet, so a new signing is essential if Arsenal are to address probably their biggest weakness. I wouldn’t like to pick a name out of the air – there’s a different one in the papers every day – and no one sticks out right now. But if you play at centre-half for Arsenal, you have to be good on the ball.”

A lot of us have moaned and groaned about the German in the past, but is this really fair from Parker? Not according to it isn´t, as the stats based website also argued that Mertesacker´s stats disprove this claim. His passing accuracy was the same as Koscielny´s and Cazorla´s and they were the best in the Arsenal squad. He made just two defensive errors and conceded just eight fouls all season.

So is it just his pace and what Mertesacker looks like when playing or do Arsenal need to replace him to win the title?

Tags Mertesacker Parker


  1. This guy is nuts.. ”His positional sense is quite poor as well. He makes a few errors, he gives away a lot of penalties and gets booked for rash challenges”. I have never seen a more wrong statement in my life. He might be slow but his positional sense is one of the best i have seen, and when did paul see him make rash challenges and concede penalties? Some people are just haters. We dont need a cb, all we need is a cdm and a striker and if cech signs, perfect.

      1. People only cast doubts on his ability because of his speed, LETS be honest not the quickest…. But what he lacks in speed he more than makes up for in intelligence. He’s vulnerability a lack of Height during set pieces (I.e Giroud being the only realistic target because of his height and the fact he is a striker) has meant our CB ‘s are playing a bit more up top than they should be and because our midfield is mostly attacking defusing the situation/ stopping opposition attacks in the first half of the season wasn’t happening, the second half we had coquelin but if he gets injured, without any cover at CDM we end up in the same situation. Also it wouldn’t kill to have an experienced keeper to be able to maintain composure in one on one situations, one thing for a long period of time we have lacked. Cech should bring a wealth of experience and a keeping coach who would develop Szczesny into that type of keeper.

    1. Per is an above average defender who does not make too many mistakes. But he is not the right type of defender for the way we play. We play with a very high defensive line and usually without a DM (until Coq arrived) so Per has had to face a lot of marauding young fast wingers and strikers who basically just ran by him time after time.
      I really dont fault Mert for this, he is who he is, Arsene knew he was slow but still decided to play him on a high line.
      A slow defender like Per without a DM, playing a highline is a recipe for disaster.
      I would prefer a faster more agile defender instead of him, but if Arsenal will keep playing with a DM and Koscielny keeps covering for Per’s lack of speed I think it might work for another year but it’s definitely not ideal.

      1. Pace, pace, pace – 90% of the time pace is used to make amends for mistakes. Better to make fewer in the first place. Have you watched Varane lately? Btw – part of Kos’s actual job is to cover for PM, it is not like he is doing him a favour or anything. Its how CB pairings work – PM manages the line and Kos mops up if necessary. If you were to list the most important attributes for a WC centre-back then pace might just squeeze in to a top 10 list. Football history is awash with “paceless” world class CBs – some of the best ever in fact. Terry and Howedes are probably two of the most highly rated defenders around and slow doesn’t begin to describe them.

        1. Some fans are dilusional ….Pace only part of his problem …though a big one… his distribution of ball out if defence is awful …one of worst in EPL …slows down our forward movement massively and often puts receiving player in akward situation wher only option is back pass… He is also average in air … So his one quality is positional sense so he is alright as a bench player which is how Germany use him… So yes the guy is right we will not win league with this mertesaker starting

          1. You do realise that believing everyone else is “delusional” (your standard put-down I believe) is the grandest delusion of all.

            OK, his near 90% successful pass rate out of defence could be better – LOL. And yes, the bog-standard CB pass out of defence the world over will find a player who is likely to be pressurised and yes the ball does come back again. What games are you watching? Are you looking for the punt up field? Or maybe expecting 60 yard raking defence shredding bullet passes?

            And if United, City and Chelsea can win the PL in the last 5 years with the likes of Nastasic, Demichelis, Lescott, Evans, Jones and Cahill then anything is possible.

            1. F@@@ me just wAtch where his 90 per cent passes go not quote some meaningless statistic … Our slowness out of defence is a major weakness that needs correcting ASAP and best way is to drop this guy to the gench in line with his international level…No top four team in any of top tier of Europe would have him as a starter …. That’s all 4th delusional junkies need to understand …. One more year as bench player alongside chambers who hopefully will grow in to role this season otherwise we will need to find alternative

              1. Why is the stat meaningless – you just said his distribution is “awful”…..”one of the worst in the PL”. You must have noticed he gets tasked with playing the ball out and not Kos so he is probably not even the worst ball-playing CB in our team never mind the PL. And mate, I have to ask – where do you want his 90% successful passes to go? Playing out of the back is not the place to force the pace of an attack – the urgency comes from the ball-players.

                1. Pers distribution isn’t awful,hes actually a good passer when given time on the ball.However when hes pressured on the ball theres no more scary sight for most gooners,if he loses the ball he cannot recover due to his lack of pace,he also cannot bring the ball out from defence again partly due to his lack of pace an recovery skills.Mertesacker also has little to no physical presence either even tho hes 7 ft.Paul Parker went over the top with the 2nd part of his commenLeagu or the CL with Per in our first 11.
                  Don’t 4get during the world cup Per was dropped as soon as they reached the semi finals,because they knew he was the weakest link

      2. We conceded the least amount of goals last season without a WC keeper and were the strongest team in 2015. Say what you like but Mertesacker provides the leadership and experience to play at the top level until his retirement. A great player is defined by how they overcome their weaknesses and not how they correct their mistakes

    2. @lupe. Totally agree with you however there are one or two teams in EPL that Gabriel will be more suited for those teams with fast counter attacks but with not much technical abilities

    3. Agreed lupe. It is like this clown was asked for his crap expert opinion on an entirely different player and the names got muddled in the process. BFG ain’t quick, the world knows that by now thanks to TV pundits saying it before every match, but nothing else makes any sense whatsoever.

      John Terry is the media English CB darling and no praise is too much for good old John. He may well be the best CB in the history of the game but never mind the Big F**&^ German tag there is a seriously Big F*** Disconnect between what the stats say and what the pundits spout.

      Both played almost the entire 2014-15 PL campaign. The Opta stats say:

      PM has a superior defence score overall.
      PM has 20% more passes a game with the same 89% pass success rate as JT.
      PM has more forward passes.
      JT clearly superior regarding goal scoring threat. 5-0 to JT.
      JT edges aerial duels won 72% to 70%.
      PM edges the defensive errors made and neither made an error leading directly to a goal.
      PM commits nearly 50% less fouls than JT.
      They both almost identical stats for clearances.
      JT wins almost twice as many tackles as PM but PM has twice as many interceptions – different styles.
      Both about the same on discipline.
      JT has around 20% more blocks.
      JT has better % total duels won – not hugely different though at 68% to 65%.

      Now I fully get the lies, damned lies and statistics thing but difficult to see from the above what makes one the best CB in the world and the other one of the worst. Maybe it is down to aesthetics and JT’s balletic movement and grace earn hims extra points for style.

      And btw – you would need the photo-finish camera to separate them in a 60M dash.

      1. Wow jonestown1 Nice One
        I bet you know what I had for breakfast 2 and no to the other thing I didnt HAHA

    4. If im honest i dont think his positional sense is good at all, many of times hes been caught out pushed up field. Its only kos that makes him looked good, and for a big guy he narf cowards away from the ball in aerial battles. Personally i think he needs to go! Id love john stones to partner kos at the back

      1. Exactly joeboy,
        That is why Germany did not start him in the semi finals and the finals.
        I laugh when people say positional sense just like I laugh when I hear hold up play for Giroud. These people will make up anything to claim these players are fantastic and we don’t need to buy. And then Wenger will not and next year comes exactly the same thing happens. We don’t win the EPL and CL but some fans will still think Mertersacker and Giroud are phenomenal and we don’t need to buy. And then Wenger will not……..

        You see where this is going? It has happened for the past 4 season now like a broken record.

        1. Agreed Kcool.What amazes and amuses me is how many people on this site somehow imagine that this man with his deliberate and negative mastery of the two, sometimes three yard pass has become elevated to become a General or even mastermind and organizer of our defense. I would ask some people to watch his game and see how he actually performs. Apparently if we follow the stats he comes out ahead of John Terry. Doesn’t that tell you as much as you need to know about stats. When Gabriel played his first game against Everton he made a tackle that Mertesacker couldn’t have even considered.How would that have found it’s way into his stats. Why should the rest of our defense have to compromise their own game in order to accommodate such a player. Basically because they have no choice. Per isn’t just slow he is cumbersome, has poor co-ordination and does not have the organisational skills which some have decided he must have. Above all sadly he is not a brave man. I have to agree with Paul Parker that we can never win the BPL with him in our side. But it is unfair to say that he is the only reason.

      2. You do know that some of the mopping up is because of where mert positions himself. Hell be positioned in an area where there are maybe only one or two passes on, in an area, and the big man knows that either Kos or Bell would be favorites for ball. The opponent could choose to pass back but mert done job if thats case or opponent could choose to take mert on but they rarely choose that but when they do mert usually is just in the way.

        1. YingYang69 – wasting your breath there – way too sophisticated. k-ool derides positional play in a CB and hold-up play in a lone CF. Consult any coaching manual on CF play and “hold-up” play is bang, smack at the top of the list of thing you want from a CF.

    5. I don’t know of Paul parker and have never heard of him but from the title of this blog and the little i grasped when I skimmed through this article Paul parker is absolutely 100% correct.
      I have been saying this for a long time and believe me that is from the few more than a handful of times I pay close attention to Mertersacker’s game.
      It seems Paul Parker has payed close attention to Mertersacker’s game for a long period of time to come to his conclusion. And he is right.
      Mertersacker is the equivalent of Giroud in the defence. He is the slowest weakest link and we cannot expect to win the title with them. I think that the fans who believe Mertersacker and Giroud are world beaters are entitled to their belief….BUT don’t sit their and say we can win the title with those 2 in our starting 11. My hope is that should we not sign a CB, that Gabriel take his place alongside Koscielny.
      Talking about positional sense? Look at that goal Gareth bale scored VS Arsenal in early 2013. Mertersacker needs a GPS on the pitch.

      1. Not every player has to be a world beater to be apart of a title chasing team. If you read from most fans even the ones who appreciate Giroud the most you will hear how they believe an alternative striker could be needed.

        Giroud is a strong focal point and brings physical toughness to our forward play. He is a solid player who has technically superior players around him and he contributes a fair share. Mert is one of a very solid partnership beside Boss. When we apply full team effort to our defensive duties similar to how che do you can see we are solid defensively.

        1. Giroud and Mertesacker aren’t good enough,and wouldn’t get into any of the teams we are trying to compete with.By saying “not every player has to be a world beater” your basically admitting that these 2 are mediocre.We don’t need that level of quality in our starting 11 mate

          1. The reason for saying world beater is because i am one of the fans who believes world class or world beater is thrown around way too often. Cahil is not world class, Rooney is not world class, and up until this season Vidal wasnt world class but you get the train hoppers all jumping on it.

  2. I think what Paul Parker has said is a bit over the top. I would like an upgrade to mertasacker and i am one who thinks Gabriel could be that man! But saying mertasacker “He makes a few errors, he gives away a lot of penalties and gets booked for rash challenges” is BS! I would like a partnership of KOS and Gabriel this coming season or at least try it in pre-season to see how they play together.

    Also if we brought another CB id be more than happy even if it meant selling mertasacker but i think we have more important position’s to focus on for the time being!

  3. Per had a decent season for us and got better as the season went on. He even scored in the final. I think he still has lots to offer but as our third choice cb, time to give Gabriel a chance to prove he’s worth the 15 mil paid for him. I think boss and gabi will create a great partnership. Also remember that chambers when used as a cb has performed well.we currently have 4 good cb. I think some fans are harsh on per, he had a bad game against Monaco but again who didn’t?????

  4. BFG had a poorish first half of season due to fatigue from World Cup, Kos being injured and Chesney in goal. His form was much better in 2nd half of season, with Kos back, Ospina in goal and LeCoq protecting back 4, and Bellerin and Monreal performing well.
    In Cup Final Benteke hardly got a kick or a header.
    If Cech signing is confirmed then we’ll be even calmer and more assured at the back with more clean sheets.
    Per has maybe a couple of seasons left, and he has a lot of high class experience to pass on to the like of Gabriel, Chambers and Hayden.
    A second quality DM + a proven striker with pace is what we need

  5. When we signed Per I thought it was a bad signing. He seemed like a bit of a makeshift singing. He was 3rd choice behind Kos & Vermaelen. He always worried me when he was playing to start with. But he’s won me over. He’s formed a great partnership with Kos and turned the player who I’d have classed as our best defender Vermaelen into 3rd choice. People say Kos carries him but I actually think he’s helped bring out the best in him and there different styles really suit each other. The start of this season it wasn’t his fault that we didn’t have a proper back up while Kos was injured but his performances weren’t good enough. It’s not often I lose patience with players but I though it’s time for him to go. The second half of the season he’s been very good his World Cup hangover is over and I think he’s been playing better than ever. Yeah he’s slow but he’s a very good player and I think we have 3 top defenders.

  6. Per and kos when both fit compliment each other perfectly. Remember when kos played alongside TV5 it never seemed to really work. I think Chambers will be the new Per and Gabi the new Kos and they could be a great pairing for many years and compliment each other in the same way as Per and Kos do. I know alot of people are still undecided on Chambers but he looked very reliable at CB at the beginning of the season. He is definately not a RB.

    1. Agreed. We all need to give up giving CC stick for his RB outings – it was emergency cover only and for a 19 lad I thought he actually did better than I had expected, yes he got ripped a new one a few times but that is what FBs are there for – probably the most exposed position on the field after GKs, and errors are easy to spot. He has plainly said he is not a RB and is not planning on being one, Wenger has said pretty much the same.

  7. I think it’s a bit of both. Mert has his idiosyncrasies in terms of how he moves but the guy can tackle and mop up just fine… most of the time.

    What disturbed me the most was watching him turn away from Skrtel’s header at Anfield. You could arguably forgive him for doing the same against Kondogbia’s shot as it was hit with real force. He has also needed Koscielny to bust a gut at times to rescue some of his lobbed passes that went awry when he was being closed down.

    Re: Paul Parker’s comments:- Some might have said you can’t win a world cup with Mert in the starting XI either. He’ll only be 31 at the end of next season and you’d think he has plenty of top level football left in him without the internationals draining him. We’ll see.

    1. I too have wondered about the turning your head/body away to avoid a shot because it concerned me as well. But an amateur football coach did tell me there are situations where defenders are called upon to make a judgement – whether to interrupt the arc/direction of a shot from range or leave it to go through harmlessly to the GK. If you think you can get your head/body fully behind the ball then block – if you are struggling to get there then withdraw. We all see GKs left stranded with deflected shots all the time. How you deal with it must be more about instinct than a split second decision but I can sort of see why “harmless” shots from distance are often best left for the GK to deal with. If PM had properly ducked/avoided Kondogbia’s shot it would not have been a goal and we would have regained easy possession. It does look bad though when you get caught between two stools.

  8. Well as I’m sure you’ll all be surprised to know, I don’t know what it’s like to win a World Cup, not having won one myself. But I can’t imagine it taking 6 months to get over as Mertesacker claims. The other Germans didn’t seem that affected by it, other than with a few injuries.

    1. Im with you Mick, I too find it almost impossible to comprehend – but I did see di Maria has come out and said pretty much the same thing regarding his torrid season. The problem with him using this as an excuse however was that his best form was in his first 2 months immediately after the WC. Doesn’t quite stack up.

  9. Actually sell Mertsacker, Chambers and Jenkison. The proceeds of sale and freeing up salaries should cover Hummels fee and salary

    Doesn’t matter just having two RB because we had two LB all season and coped


    1. Home grown quotes, have you ever heard of those. We need Chambers & Jenkinson in the future, especially if those number go to 12.

  10. BFG is not bad at all and we do have Gabriel as a potential who can displace him. It all comes down to money in the end. Cech and CDM (Schneiderlin) need to be filled first. A striker is what everyone wants as well. However bar Benzema/Cavani I am not convinced the other strikers we are linked with are an upgrade over Giroud. So let’s say we can’t get a striker on deadline day but a very good defender becomes available, Ramos, Hummels, Godin or Boateng, we should go for it.

    They are upgrades over BFG and they are leaders, yes we have Chambers, Gabriel and Hayden as back-ups but are they proven leaders.

    Upon successful integration BFG could be let go in the winter transfer period.

    1. What a defensive line we would have:


      1-0 to the Arsenal

      1. If were parking the bus at Stamford bridge, here’s my lineup —

        Debuchy Gabriel Koscielny Monreal
        Coquelin Chambers
        Bellerin Sanchez Gibbs

        1. @Seetsuma
          Switch Monreal and Gibbs. Nacho is better going forward and will help Gibbs defending.

  11. i will give wenger his due he might only be well known for his awesome transfer sense for attacking players, but he also does have a good nose for the odd defender, with talent that he can work on there game with them i.e kos,chambers, hopefully gabriel.
    bfg has been a good c/h for us i suppose he will take a backseat more next season with gabby playing more game time with kossy but he will be professional as ever and deliver, when we need him to play not like a vermalaen type, who will want to go at the first sign of not playing regularly.

    1. @goonerwineverything
      Don’t slag off TV5. Dude was the Capt. and huggin the bench. Where the hell else is that happening? He could have at least been utilized as a DM…

  12. Last summer we had a great start by signing Alexis. We also signed Ospina, Debuchy and Chambers relatively early

    Once Cech goes through it will be another wonderful start to the season. Nothing wrong with starting the Summer transfer window with a world class signing.

    Lets hope it’s not the only major signing of the summer.

  13. i am guessing if we get new c/h then chambers will most likely move to d/m or or if we get d/m then at least we know that chambers will most likely stay at c/h for the future.
    i am not sure how close the cech deal is, alot of talk atm is saying(driving me up the wall lol) it is done and others saying it a day or 2 away. yet would be very unhappy if we sold ospina though would rather have two seasoned pros, as number 1 and 2 and put lord shez on loan at southampton.
    for a season and if ospina wants to go then we should say thanks for the service and bring back shez. i would only maybe consider selling ospina to southampton if it meant part ex for schniderlin plus £18 million cash.

    1. I’m checking the Arsenal website constantly for any update of signing Cech

      I wonder if Cech has already bought his red and white helmet or if he is waiting until everything has been signed and sealed

      He would look better in red and white than blue

  14. not getting a new cb. we have 4. and two fullbacks that can cover. that s as much as any topteam has. merts ist very good, this guy is talking some non-sense. comitted 8 fouls, one mistake this season and played a lot of the first half with out Kos and LeCoq.

  15. C E C H H C E C C E C H H C E C C E C H H C E C C E C H H C E C C E C H H C E C C E C H H C E C !!!

  16. Good signing. My only worrry is how motivated will he be now in his fag end of career. Its not like he has not won trophies, he has won everything with chelsea. Still a good signing

  17. Chelsea fans are calling Cech a traitor already. Nothing about saying thank you for helping them win 15 trophies. CHAVEZ

    1. Some fans are idiots
      He wants 1st team football
      He wants to stay in London
      He served 11 seasons for them and 15 trophies
      Should he stay as backup with his quality or play for West Ham or some team like That?

      Arsenal was ideal choice
      Stay in London, No need to disturb family
      Playing for a top team that plays in CL
      He leaves Chelsea with a Top GK.

      Great transfer

  18. i got a question for this parker guy how the f*ck did per get 104 caps for germany if he is slow.ooh they all hate us and we don’t care.

  19. nice headline lol
    if paul parker is or was an england star then we have to call mertesacker
    a german god.

    parker … 19 national team appearances, no goal, no worldcup title
    per … 104 national team appearances, 4 goals and a worldcup title

    f#ck paul nobody parker talking shit

  20. He’s not exactly qualified to say it but Per should not be in a title contenders starting 11 unless we intend to put a wall of players around him. He does have benefits for the odd game against certain players but out of a long season of many games he not start in many for me. Give me an English speaking Paulista, or even Hayden/chambers alongside kos any day. Cue the thumbs down 🙂 on the cech transfer that looks like it will cross the line awesome news, cant wait to see him wear our shirt. Love the fact chelski fans are unhappy but can’t help feel its harsh on ospina.

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