Per Mertesacker was on German TV channel 2DF last night, and thanks to Arseblog pal, Hadareud, we have a transcript of the first 9 minutes of the interview.
He talks about the Chelsea game, Costa, Gabriel, Wenger and Mourinho, our (lack of) transfer market activity and more.
How difficult was it to watch the match (derby against Chelsea) from home?
It’s very difficult to watch from home and it was nerve-racking. It could have gone better, including the decisions of the officials. I want to be back on the pitch as soon as possible, that’s for sure.
Will you be back next Wednesday?
I expect so.
Since you were watching from home, you could also witness Arsene Wenger almost refusing to shake Mourinho’s hand. The two seem to hate each other, what’s the reason for the antipathy?
The two have a special relationship. It doesn’t really affect us players that much, there’s rivalry between the clubs anyway. The two managers just took that a bit further and built a special relationship with each other. Even so, a handshake is important and maybe today’s handshake is the first step to things improving (smiles).
When you say it doesn’t really affect you, you still have to defend your manager when you’re asked a question about it. So you are you his side?
Yes, obviously. We fight for each other and what’s important is to beat Mourinho every now and then because he has a lot of self-confidence. Wenger too, by the way.
Diego Costa: first he had a go at Koscielny, then Gabriel. What would you have done in this situation?
First of all, he should have been sent off. That’s what should have happened above all. He went far too far and it seems that English referees lack the common sense that’s necessary. The officials certainly didn’t look good in this situation. Having said that, Gabriel can’t let himself be provoked and he should have been walked away from the scene by his team-mates. So we have to take responsibility for the situation, too.
The myth about English football is that things like cheating and diving are not tolerated there and that it’s the influx of foreign players that brought these things to the English game. Shouldn’t the Chelsea fans hate behaviour like this?
Well, they certainly didn’t today. Today the player got a standing ovation from his own fans and that shows you that the rivalry is more important than what happened on the pitch. That hurts, because it definitely didn’t show fairness and certainly didn’t show respect. Those are things football should stand for and that’s why I don’t want anything to do with this (*these sort of antics) myself. I hope it gets punished retrospectively since that option exists. The guy (Costa) was already punished a few times, but so far he hasn’t changed. So I hope the right conclusions are drawn and since there were several violent conducts, it should be easy to make the right decision.
It will probably happen …
But too late for Arsenal
The club have been waiting for one of the really big trophies for a long time and the team is known for 4th place finishes. This season you have scored only 5 goals in 6 league games. Are you lacking another striker?
I don’t think so. We have created the most chances of any team in the league and we also have the most shots …
… are you lacking a good striker, then?
We just haven’t been able to score from great chances, that’s all that’s to say about this short-term goal crisis. We are a team that creates a lot, and we have incredible potential going forward and things will change again. I think in these big games, we have to stay disciplined, especially in heated situations. We now finished 2 games in a row with just 10 men – that’s what we have to focus on.
I don’t think there’s a problem with our finishing, I think we’re well stocked up front. Usually we were always criticised for conceding too many goals, now things are the other way around. We have to work on finding a good balance, then there’s good potential. Anyway, in games like these so many things happen, you can never entirely prevent red cards, either.
Efforts were being made to get a big striker, you were being linked with Benzema, for instance. If you look at English football, you have two things: the myth of English football on one side and the billions on the other. *goes to show how much money City, Man Utd and Chelsea have spent, while Arsenal have spent very little*. Is Wenger this stingy or could he just not identify the player that he absolutely wanted?
It’s not finding the player that he wanted, I think he would have liked to strengthen us – but only with the right player that can help us right away. I think it was a difficult market to find value and even though the money was there to spend Wenger doesn’t just spend to spend he wants to make decisive signings. He also hopes that the team can improve together. We won the FA Cup twice in a row and we have stability. Maybe for him that stability and team spirit is the most important thing and he also has great belief in his players – something that should be highlighted as well every now and then.
When you look at the sums that are spent, that don’t look healthy anymore, we have stability. Even that is being criticised. I think it’s difficult to find a balance and I also think he really trusts his players. Something that I benefitted immensely myself in the past. We should wait and see how the season develops, we have a very good squad that can compete at the top.
By the way, it’s not always 4th place finishes, there’s also 3rd place finishes, so we’re slowly working our way to the top.