Per Mertesacker says he’s unhappy with Arsenal’s lack of fight in the away defeats at Everton and Manchester City and called on his teammates to work harder to prove to the fans they have what it takes to challenge for the title.
Knee ligament damage may have kept the former Germany international sidelined since August, but as club captain, he remains a vocal figure in the dressing room and used his latest interview with the matchday programme to rally the troops.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we fought, especially in the second halves [at Goodison Park and the Etihad]. There’s something we need to prove to our fans here and show them that we want to reach something, that we want to achieve something.
“First of all, we need to compete. The fans have always been great, especially away from home, but we cannot drop such performances in a row. We feel absolutely uncomfortable with it.
“It’s down to the players to show that we can put in the intensity, can get everyone involved. The fans will follow us and support us, as they always have been.”
He added: “It’s really down to us to show that we are good enough and can put the intensity in. We’ve spoken about that a number of times – when we put in the drive, when we match teams physically, we are almost unstoppable.
“But if you don’t do that, if you lack another five or 10 per cent, you won’t win any Premier League games.”
You can’t really argue with any of that. Thankfully, the captain’s words seemed to be heeded at the weekend as we ground out a hard-fought 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.
There remains a lot of ground to make up on leaders Chelsea with Petr Cech predicting Arsenal need to hit at least 87 points to be in with a chance of winning the title.