A week ago, Per Mertesacker had probably resigned himself to watching Arsenal’s FA Cup Final with Chelsea in the stands.
The defender hadn’t played a single minute of competitive football since April last year before being called upon for the dying embers of the win against Everton.
It’s a huge turnaround for the 32-year-old, who insists he’ll give everything for the club he captains.
“I was out for half a year and not available so it was difficult at times,” Mertesacker told press on Wednesday.
“When I came back new year and started to train with the team, obviously, you want to give absolutely everything on the training pitch and try to support the team as much as you can.
“I wasn’t happy about the role, just being sidelined, but just keeping up with the boys, trying to lift them no matter what happens. We went through difficult periods throughout the season but this is really clutch now for us and I think everyone now is eager to play the last game and give absolutely everything for this club.
“I haven’t [really] played this year but I have done this for 15 years so I expect myself to be absolutely ready no matter what comes. That is my mindset, no matter what happens or what is facing me on Saturday, I am going to go for it.
“I owe this to this team and to this club. I want to make sure I will be ready and my mindset is 120 minutes plus penalties.”
While it’s not ideal to have to throw a player in the deep end like this, Arseblog News at least takes a positive from the fact the BFG has scored three times at Wembley, once for Germany to beat England in a friendly, the vital equaliser against Wigan in the 2014 semi-final and Arsenal’s third in the FA Cup final over Aston Villa. Not too shabby.
The World Cup winner also touched on the atmosphere in the dressing room, making clear that any uncertainty over the manager’s future is not adversely affecting his players.
“I cannot see any horrendous environment,” he explained. “We have been very focused on what is at stake.
“I think we players, we did not care too much what happened to the manager next year. That’s our job, and we’ve done it for a couple of years now.
“We haven’t been brilliant all season, when we have gone through ups and downs. But this league is about quick changes and you have to be ready for the next challenge, even when it’s not going for you.
“You cannot let yourself down or find excuses about the environment or the manager’s future.
“This is not my approach and not the team’s approach. I think we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and see what’s next for us.”