Mertesacker on his comeback and a big week ahead for the Gunners

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Prior to yesterday, Per Mertesacker was probably looking ahead to pre-season for his next run out in an Arsenal shirt.

Injured on the eve of the season, the World Cup winner spent six months on the sidelines recovering from knee ligament surgery and then, once fit, had to bide his time in the stands while the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Gabriel and Nacho Monreal all usurped him in the centre-back pecking order.

Yesterday’s inclusion on the bench for the final game of the season appeared to be precautionary on the part of Arsene Wenger, but football moves quickly.

Having not played since last season the veteran will now likely start the FA Cup final against Chelsea with Laurent Koscielny, sent off yesterday, suspended and major doubts over Gabriel and Mustafi.

Reflecting on his unexpected comeback, Mertesacker played up the importance of the hard work he’s put in behind the scenes.

“It’s a bit sad but I never look back, always look forward [because there are] quick changes in this league,” he told Arsenal.com after the 3-1 win over Everton. 

“Today we had a couple of injuries before the game that made me in the squad. Then we unfortunately had a red card and another injury, which gave me a chance to play. But I felt quite good, honestly.

“What I did in training over the last year paid off today. Being on the pitch with the boys is what I used to do for 15 years. I’m still learning but I’m used to it. Take nothing for granted but it was special today.”

The BFG also touched on a big week ahead at the end of a disappointing league campaign.

“It’s a nice atmosphere after a win and we appreciate the fans and vice-versa. It’s a nice atmosphere but we didn’t get what we wanted, so there’s a little bit of disappointment. But heading to the FA Cup final is something we’re buzzed about.”

Check out today’s epic Arsecast Extra, dealing with all the final day goings-on, Kroenke, Usmanov, Wenger and much more

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25 Comments on "Mertesacker on his comeback and a big week ahead for the Gunners"

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Fergal

Welcome back captain!

BidOnLard

Yay, for the Per! Let’s hope he’s fit for a full game.
As our bench of CBs is getting shorter and shorter I wonder if Chambers is coming back and can be used as a backup for the final…

Anthony

I do believe Chambers would be cup tied.

matthewn5

We’ve got a big fucking German!

Welbeck\'s hi top fade
Welbeck\'s hi top fade

Operating in the middle of a back three should be perfect for the BFG. A calm presence that can coordinate the defence, should also have plenty of cover from the quicker CBs, and there’s no one better in the air.

Sideshow_bob

I absolutely loved watching Per make his comeback for us. People make too much fun of him which I feel is unwarranted. He’s always been good for us whenever he’s played. There’s always a sense of calmness in his play
Ps: I will always prefer him over Gabriel

Bai Blagoi

Only respect for Per. I didn’t notice somebody to make fun of him, but if there is such case, such individual deserves a big, nasty kick in dem Arsch.

Nordin

Yesterday we were playing basically with 2 @ the centre for most part…and the Captain did well when he came in.
If he plays on Sat and we revert back to 3 centreback…Per can be the sweeper behind the 2…most probably Mustafi and Holding. I think we can be as stable as we have been thus far.
Attacking wise…still many options. Hope Alexis recover and play…but worst case senario…a few other players have come in and fo the job well…Iwobi, Coq, Giroud. Really hope Ox will be fit for the Final. So attacking wise we can hurt Chelsea too.

spinner

He might be a bit on the slow side but you don’t get over 100 caps for Germany if you’re a naff defender.

Yorkshire Gunner

He’s lost none of his pace that’s for sure!

Welcome back big man!

I’m on him to nod in the winner in extra time.

Mumbai Gunner

I really hope we win before the extra time

oozil

The thing with most of the slow players who are of international caliber is that they are in that position only because they are smart players. If some of the fast players in our team had per s tactical sense it would be so easy to win games.
The biggest problem we have had this year is both mustafi and koscielny like to intercept rather than play the spaces. Per is excellent in positioning

Campbell\'s forehead

If he starts in the final I think his experience will be invaluable. My only concern is that he has hardly played this season. Though in a back 3 this can be compensated for.

Fuhgedaboudit l

It looks like Mustafi will miss the FA Cup final too. Not sure who that leaves to play in the back 3 with Holding and BFG. Thinking Chambers if he is avaIable, but concerned with the lack of experience between Holding and Chambers. But if anybody can be a calming influence on them and offer experienced help, it’s the BFG. Otherwise perhaps they can move Monreal to the left side next to Per and move Gibbs into the left wingback position. I think Monreal offers more of a defensive attitude than Gibbs and Gibbs has more speed which is beneficial to the wingback position.

Jim

Chambers is cup tied.

santori

If there is any position where we are well covered for this season, its Cback.

Even with Koscielny and Gabriel out for the cup final, we have Mustafi (presumably he will have recovered from illness and general press alzheimer)

Mustafi has been excellent this season remembering this is barely his first with us and he has had to hit the ground running. Remember as well Koscielny’s first season was strewn with red cards, own goals and penalties conceded.

Also Per stepped in effortlessly. Again another conveniently blamed for lack of pace, his positioning is generally immaculate. If Gabriel (who I thought has improved tremendously this season) has a longer than expected injury eating into next campaign, we may yet want to hold on to Per for at least half a season more.

Then we have Holding. Again an excellent buy by David Dein and the proverbial director of football.

Showed a bit of inexperience against Everton late on and more so the usual lack of circumspect and perspective from many fans in over lauding him but he should step in fine.

And we have Monreal whom I personally like as left side of back 3. Iwobi came in and put in a shift (albeit we went back to a 4-4-1). But we can play him left side or better yet Ox inverted as wing back.

So not sure what ‘crisis’ at the back some people are fretting about ahead of the cup.;)

santori

The other gratifying thing is Bellerin is coming back into excellent form. Really a superb performance against Everton. He was sharp and everywhere.

AND the midfield is starting to find real sync. Granit and Ramsey were solid despite being down to ten. Ozil is purring at the moment. Even when Coquelin came on with Ramsey, we were decent. Its a bit of confidence I think and a bit more fluency derived initially from the new formation but we had to dig deep against Everton and were playing more 4-4-1. So plenty of positives.

What we need is a bit more efficiancy in front of goal.

Yes Danny is more mobile but he has also contrived to miss several sitters in his last 3 starts for us.

Giroud is of course less mobile but he is sharper in front of goal and with his movement ahead and into the 6 yard box.

Its a difficult pick. I suspect the gaffer may go for Welbeck with Chelsea lkikely to come at us but Giroud could be the game winner for us again if we feed him.

There is no plan B. You may say Giroud will be better off prospering when legs get stretched and they sit deeper but that could also be the case for Welbeck late on if the game gets stretch and they leave gaps.

Certainly think we should be starting Ramsey. He is a player who thrives on confidence and that excellent finish may just be the ticket to ignite his appetite again.

santori

Finally there will be predictable (and justifiable) gnashing of teeth from not qualifying for top 4 and a generally dissapointing season.

BUT we still have a chance to win the FA cup for an unprecedented time and Wenger can be the most successful manager in the competition.

This isn’t the league cup, in some ways it should be on par with a Europa league win.

If you asked me second best trophy and champions league or FA cup, some people were clamouring for the latter not several seasons ago. How quickly they change their tune.

The once derided 4th place pot is now something to celebrate for the likes of Liverpool according to the facile press. 2 showings in 8 seasons there’s a by the numbers for you.

Perspective as by the press.

We still have to win it of course and stop Chelsea winning the double. We’re coming into good form again and on our day, we can beat anyone. Its consistency that has been the enemy.

If we look back to the fact that we only needed a draw from either of those decrepit performances against Palace or West Brom (in truth we should have gotten draws at very least against Liverpool and Spurs too), it puts it in all the more context. Alas.

ramgooner

Think people have forgotten that Debuchy or Jenkinson can play RCB if needed in the cup finals.

Original Paul

Fickle is good at times! COYG!

GunnerYY

I remember Per got the red card against Chelsea because he was too slow to tackle Hazard. Hmm.

Anthony

We were also positionally all over the place that day, with no one around to support him.

I think we will line up like this for the final:

Cech
Mustafi Mertesacker Holding
Monreal Bellerin
Ramsey Xhaka
Ozil
Alexis Ox
Welbeck

Of course this is subject to Alexis not having an injury and Mustafi getting over illness

Rich

That’s 12 players!

Anthony

So it is. We might need them 😂

In light of the fact Mustafi is probably out:

Cech
Monreal Mertesacker Holding
Ox Bellerin
Ramsey Xhaka
Ozil
Alexis Welbeck

Mark

Class act all the way around, glad he was about to get one last match in (and at home) for us. Who knows what next year will bring for him.

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