Per Mertesacker has called on his teammates to maintain their concentration in games after admitting that Hull nearly stunned Arsenal with a physical and frenetic opening 20 minutes in yesterday’s 3-0 win at the KC Stadium.
The Gunners were on the back foot from the off against Steve Bruce’s side with strike duo Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long repeatedly looking to scamper onto passes from the likes of Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone and only recovered their composure after Aaron Ramsey’s 31st minute opener.
Casting an eye over the game, the German international told Arsenal Player that it’s essential the team defend as a cohesive unit.
“I think at the start, Hull played very well, they put pressure on us all the time. They played with two strikers Jelavic and Long. They played quite decent together as well so it was quite tough.
“We were lucky [at times] but overall when it was really, really close we had a good response. I think the whole team has to switch on quicker than normal to avoid those balls behind us [when we face two strikers]. I got booked very early so I always had to be aware.
“To cover each other is a vital point. We didn’t do enough of that in the first 15 or 20 minutes but after it was much easier, especially in the second half, we got more possession, we were more dangerous and we’ve got some decent finishers in our team as well.”
As has been well documented neither Jelavic or Long will be available to Hull for the FA Cup final showdown on 17 May but Per is not wrong to highlight our sluggishness out of the traps. It’s pretty obvious after some of the maulings we’ve had in 2014 that ‘getting into Arsenal’ from the first whistle is the number one tactic in the book entitled ‘how to shit up Arsenal and win’.
Yesterday was the first time in six games (since we scored in the opening seconds at Spurs) that we haven’t conceded first. It certainly made a difference.