Per Mertesacker believes Arsenal have the ability to challenge for the title next season, however only if they can keep their top players fit.
The Gunners were well in the title race during the festive season, however injuries to Walcott and Ramsey, then Ozil and Wilshere had detrimental effects on the squad that saw Wenger’s side slip down the table and into a battle for fourth spot.
The German international feels if they have better luck with injuries next season they can be a force to reckon with.
He told Arsenal’s official website:
We have the potential to be a very promising side in terms of title races, but if you can’t keep your leading players fit all the time it makes it a lot more difficult.
We are determined to keep fourth position.
Arsenal have now welcomed back Ramsey and Ozil to the side after their respective lengthy injuries, and the duo were instrumental in securing victory over Hull City last weekend.
With Everton a point behind, Arsenal cannot afford anything less than nine points from their remaining three matches. However with a rejuvenated squad both physically and mentally, Mertesacker is confident they can secure Champions League qualification.
On the returning players, the defender said:
We need these moments where you can see we’ve got great players and some great finishers with Lukas Podolski on the scoresheet and Aaron Ramsey back on track, Mesut back on track. All these players could make a difference.
When you have your whole squad together for as long as possible, that can make a difference. We suffered a bit in the second part of the season but now everyone is… coming back to full fitness. We’ve had some long-term injuries and it’s good to have them all back.
The Gunners host a struggling Newcastle side early next week and they should be fairly confident of securing a full three points. As Mertesacker mentioned, the return of the likes of Ramsey and Ozil, not to mention the scoring exploits of Podolski has rejuvenated the squad massively at a time when it seemed like everything was going to fall by the wayside.
As for next season, Arsenal need a fully fit squad but also some added depth. This season has proven how over reliant we have been on some players such as Giroud, to some extent Koscielny and Walcott, not to mention losing the quality of Ramsey and Wilshere has made our midfield appear lethargic and players such as Arteta and Flamini have suffered as a result.
The squad needs some rejuvenation this summer, but the bones are there and we can look forward to a much more promising campaign next season. But first up, lets get the full nine points.