So it is the end of an era at Arsenal with Arsene Wenger leaving for pastures new, and we are seeing that many of his longest serving players have already moved on or are on their way out. Just this season he has lost Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and also his captain Per Mertesacker played his final game for the Gunners yesterday when Wenger put him on the pitch for the last 15 minutes.
Mertesacker was overcome with the standing ovation and the response from the fans. It was a beautiful moment,” Per told Arsenal.com. “It is difficult to sum it up now. It was brilliant, how the team performed and the manager letting me on for the last time.
“I was pretty much focused and concentrated on the game. Afterwards it was very emotional. To get such an exit from the club, I’m very grateful for this opportunity. The boss brought me here, this club trusted me. It’s very humbling and I feel very grateful.
“The good thing was we were 5-0 up [when I came on], so I could really take that warm welcome and the emotions to enter the pitch for the last time.
“It’s magnificent the way I was welcomed from the first day, and for the great finish as a football player. That’s brilliant and it speaks of this classy club by giving me the opportunity to get such a great ending.”
Another long serving player, Jack Wilshere, may or may not be departing as well, but the English midfielder is sure that Mertesacker is going to be a great inspiration for the young Arsenal players coming through the academy next season. Jack said about Per: “What a player, what a character. We’re going to miss him around the dressing room because he’s a big personality with us. He leads from the back, he wants everyone to do things right and we’re going to miss him, so I’m glad he got some minutes today. He deserved it, he works so hard in training even though he hasn’t really been in the team. He works so hard in training and pushes everyone and he’s on to the young players so he’s a great person to have around them. He’s not going to leave completely because he’s going to take up his role with the academy and from here we know what to do better.”
Mertesacker may be moving up at the club, but Laurent Koscielny will be spending most of next season in the treatment room until he gets his send of next summer, so we have a new era in defence coming up as well. It is ggoing to be a brand new younger team taking the field at the start of next season, and I for one simply can’t wait….