Having not started a game all season, Per Mertesacker might have been forgiven for being a bit rusty in yesterday’s FA Cup final.
Except he wasn’t rusty at all. He was a well-oiled defensive machine. A long-legged titan at the back, holding Chelsea at bay with Holding and Monreal alongside him.
It was a brilliant performance from the club captain, and one which drew praise from his manager after the game.
“Per Mertesacker is, for me, a fantastic example for any young professional footballer,” said Arsene Wenger.
“What he did today is just a consequence of an unbelievable attitude, even though he was not selected until the Everton game.
“He played his first game and when he was not selected, he worked even harder. That’s why I would pay a special tribute to him tonight.”
There were also words of admiration from Martin Keown, a man who knows a thing or two about defending.
“This should be called The Mertesacker Final, because I can’t believe the performance he put in,” he said.
“The pressure he must have been under. He’s been out, he’s played one game this season and it’s the biggest game of the season. To perform as he did, the three seemed to suit him actually.
“We’ve not seen him in a three really because he’s been almost last in line. He was magnificent, as all the players were.”