Sky pundit Jamie Redknapp has questioned Per Mertesacker’s place in the team after we recorded our second consecutive clean sheet in his absence, and believes Arsene Wenger has a big decision to make when we play host to Leicester City this weekend, as reported by the Daily Mail.
The German centre-back unquestionably has his qualities, but his shortcomings are all too evident all too regularly. His lack of pace leaves him exposed constantly, and his inability to recover means even the slightest error can prove massively costly.
Gabriel Paulista has done a decent job replacing him over the last two games, although he obviously has flaws to his game too. But his pace might just be enough to keep him in the team, especially against the pacy Leicester attack we’ll be facing this weekend.
Redknapp suggested that perhaps the World Cup winner should keep his spot on the bench for the moment, or risk letting Jamie Vardy run riot at the Emirates.
“Arsene Wenger has a big decision to make. That’s two clean sheets on the bounce without Per Mertesacker. He may be a leader, a World Cup winner and a big presence in the Arsenal defence, but on Sunday, they play Leicester,” he said.
“Mertesacker is experienced but one thing he is not is quick. When Arsenal travelled to Leicester they won 5-2, but the big German had a nightmare dealing with the raw speed of Jamie Vardy.”
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Mertesacker comes in for a huge amount of criticism from the fans, not all of it necessarily deserved. He has cost us points on several occasions though, and his other redeeming qualities may not be enough to get him back in the team.
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The fact that he wasn’t restored to the team straight after his suspension suggests Wenger is willing to show some faith in Gabriel and give him a run, but he’ll need to keep performing well to keep out our vice-captain.