In the summer of 2011, Arsenal acquired the services of Werder Bremen’s 6ft 6 inches tall defender on transfer deadline day for a region of 10 million Euros.
In a time when Arsenal arguably had the most erroneous defense pairing over the last decade following the 8-2 defeat to Manchester United which further highlighted their extreme defensive frailty. Manager Arsene Wenger had set his sights on Per Mertrsacker to somehow bring stability to his error prone defense. his mission was simple but he struggled to fit into the furious intensity of the Premier League like many other newcomers. His lack of pace and extra height had already been pointed out as the reason he would not be able to thrive in England.
A few years down the line and now the German has earned his place in the Arsenal first team with series of brilliant performances, the German has since then been admired greatly by Arsenal faithfuls most especially the defensive pair formed with fellow team mate Laurent Koscielny that has since then brought about stability in the Arsenal defense.
In a recent interview on Arsenal Player, Per talked about just how difficult that transition was for him,
‘’It started really tough and it started really difficult for me personally’’.
Mertesacker-koscielny partnership has been consistent and this has somehow led to Arsenal team captain Thomas Vermerlen constant place on the bench although this was as a result of the captain’s concurrent injury crisis giving the pair more time to merge even better at the back of the Arsenal defense helping Arsenal to a great December, conceding only 3 goals in 6 games last season.
His partner Laurent Koscielny said, “His experience is vital. Per is a very good player. He reads the ball well. He is clever, attacks the ball and wins headers whereas I can go behind and be quick and cope with the long balls. He is good technically so he is good for the defense. Per is calm on the pitch. He is good for me, he uses his experience, this helps me, and he helps the team.”
In the Premier League this season, he averages 9 defensive actions per game, while it’s 8 per game in the Champions League, and a significant amount of those actions involve clearances (175 in the PL, 37 in the UCL), followed by interceptions (45 in the PL, 10 in the UCL) and blocks (8 in the PL and 10 in the UCL). (Squawka)
Arsene Wenger via Arsenal.com also said “They are players of exceptional quality and experience. They have consistently proven themselves at the highest level. There is a great feeling of togetherness and belief in the group and this news will only help to strengthen this further.”
Mertesacker has proven himself vital for Arsenal at the back and this has given us fans some kind of trust together with his partner Koscielny. I believe this duo would go on helping Arsenal as our search for a trophy continue this season. Although this has come at a price for us as captain Vermerlen has had to warm the bench.