Per Mertesacker feels their 2-1 win over Aston Villa demonstrates their aptitude for coping with the intense pressure of a title challenge.
The Gunners took a resounding 2-0 lead after 35 minutes thanks to two quick fire finishes from Wilshere and Giroud, lifting them above their title rivals to the summit of the Premiership again.
Arsenal were under plenty of pressure heading into the tie at Villa Park with the likes of Chelsea and Man City winning their respective fixtures over the weekend, and Mertesacker feels his side’s win sends out a statement that they can respond and deliver despite the obstacles in front of them.
The 29-year-old centre back told Arsenal’s official website:
Nobody dropped any points so there was a bit of pressure. The team could feel that but we responded. I think everyone was expecting that we would drop points but we kept going.
In the first half we did extremely well and put a lot of pressure on them. We took the lead by two goals and that was decisive.
It was very important to respond and for the other teams to see that Arsenal is alive and that we can respond to anything. We just look at ourselves and think we are good enough to respond to any challenge they give us.
It is really tight at the top. At the moment, there is no chance to drop any points. We have to show the other teams that when we feel the pressure we can respond. That is vital so I’m really happy with the fighting performance in the second half and how resilient we were.
[on making his 100th appearance for Arsenal] We’re in a fine way and want to keep going. It is not too important that a single player got his century. To play last is always difficult, but we kept Villa quiet, especially in the first half. In the second half we had a few difficult moments but overall I would say it was a good performance.
The German international and his fellow defenders were immense against Villa, commanding and battling hard. The Arsenal of recent years would certainly have succumbed to the pressure and lost out on valuable points, but Wenger’s current side battled to the death and walked away from Birmingham with all three points.
They have indeed signaled their intent to battle to mid-May, their resilience was top notch and managed to hold onto their 2-1 lead. Mertesacker and Koscielny’s interceptions were vital, not to mention the hard work from the others in the backline and midfield.
Mertesacker has been vital to our strength and battling spirit, demanding the best from his players and has developed into a vital cog of the captaincy chain. If the Gunners can continue to display this kind of steel at the back for the remainder of the campaign then it will be a helpful platform for winning some silverware.
Congratulations for making 100 appearances BFG, your well on your way to becoming an Arsenal legend..if you can lead us to some trophies!
One statistic which is incredible is over the past two years when both Mertesacker and Koscielny have completed a full 90 minutes together (on 28 occasions), they have not yet lost. Long may it continue, no injuries please!