Ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Reading, Per Mertesacker has said that Arsenal must be mentally prepared and use their experience from last year’s competition to drive them on.
Arsenal were just eight minutes away from elimination against Wigan in the semi-final at Wembley last year, but a late equaliser from Mertesacker salvaged the situation, and Arsenal went on to lift the trophy after beating Hull City in the final.
The giant German defender has urged his team to learn from that experience, and warned that they must not start slowly to avoid a repeat of last year’s tense encounter with Wigan.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s crucial match at Wembley, Mertesacker told Arsenal’s official website:
“It is going to be their biggest game of the season so to mentally prepare that is going to be difficult, not just to match their physicality and mental strength but to do more, to be on the ball from the start.
“[We need] to show them respect but no fear for the pressure. The winning streak helps us a bit but this competition is completely different.
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“The mental side of that [Wigan] game was really tough and we need to repeat that to show that we’re good enough and mentally good enough to repeat that.
“On the football side we’re good enough but sometimes you need to put in some different qualities nobody expects from you.”
Arsenal will start as clear favourites as they look to retain the FA Cup, whilst Liverpool will meet Aston Villa in the second semi-final. The odds would be on Arsenal and Liverpool reaching the final, but the FA Cup is a competition full of surprises, and the Gunners will be looking to ensure that there is no shock on Saturday.