The Importance Of Per Mertesacker To Arsenal

The final player of my five player special is Per Mertesacker – the Big Friendly German, as Arsenal fans refer to him as, which, whatever way you look at it, it’s ironic because he is a scary player. His considerable frame alone is enough to put off some attackers.

His importance to the team is rather overshadowed by Laurent Koscielny who, to be fair, deserves all the plaudits he receives because he’s been absolutely sensational over the past few months. Sorry for the Alan Hansen description there, but he just simply is. Anyway, why is Mertesacker so important, you ask? He’s slow and can’t turn for toffee? But does it really matter about his pace when you take into account Koscielny’s pace?

Mertesacker’s role is too make sure he wins the aerial duels, although Koscielny will compete in a few of course, but Per’s main job is to deal with the initial threat and let Laurent pick up the pieces and act as a sweeper. This gives the Arsenal defence more stability because when Koscielny and Vermaelen were paired together, as both play that sweeper role, and when you get a clash like that against a good team you will get punished.

Having said that, even if you have a sweeper and someone who attacks the initial ball, they might not be that good at their job – but luckily Mertesacker is.

The final point I will make on Mertesacker is that he is a really big influence, both on the pitch and off it, in terms of supporting the younger players. Per was actually one of the reasons Ozil signed for Arsenal as the new German cited in a few interviews, which tells you a lot about him.

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