Per Mertesacker gave a very interesting interview with the Guardian, and discussed some hot topics such as last summers Suarez rumours, Ozil, extending his contract and Steve Bould’s influence on his famous partnership with Koscielny.
The summer of 2013 was full of striker rumours, one name in particular hogged the headlines and even put a grinding halt to the clubs attempts to sign Gonzalo Higuain, with Arsenal setting their sights on Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.
The Gunners failed in their pursuit of the Uruguay international and are set to face him once again this season at Anfield on Saturday.
Mertesacker would have welcomed the ‘cheeky’ Suarez, labeling him as a ‘pure striker’, however the transfer window did end well for the Gunners with the signing of a certain Mesut Ozil.
The BFG said:
Suarez is like a cheeky boy, he looks like a cheeky boy who can really switch on and off how he wants to be, so that is really something. When he is on the pitch, what is going on around him doesn’t bother him.
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He is just a pure striker and that is what comes out after the transfer requests and him saying: ‘It’s better for me to leave because I want to play Champions League.’ When we heard that Arsenal might be interested in him, obviously we were up for it and we thought, ‘Yeah, he would fit in.’ But after, we got Özil.
Ozil and Mertesacker knew one another well not just from the national team but their time together at Werder Bremen.
The Gunners centre back has heralded the signing of his compatriot as the right addition, elevating the club to another level.
The marquee signing has done wonders on and off the pitch, and now with an established squad the Gunners can push on and challenge for top honours.
To reach another level, you sometimes need the right addition to lift everybody, not just the players but the whole club and the whole public in between.
We didn’t need five or six players late in the window, which is what Arsenal got when I arrived [in August 2011]. It is not easy to get everyone settled. We were a good squad and we didn’t lose any players over the summer, which was the main part. But we needed that right addition and we can say that Özil was it.
The BFG is heavily endeared by the Arsenal faithful, one incident in particular made headlines when he berated Mesut Ozil after the 6-3 defeat at Manchester City last December.
The midfielder made a beeline for the tunnel after a tough outing for his new club, and ignored Arsenal’s tradition of approaching and thanking their traveling supporters.
Mertesacker explained the situation and feels it had to be done, but there is no lasting friction:
We have to present ourselves as a unit, no matter what happens. That is what Arsenal stands for.
He was just angry, so was I and, sometimes, it’s good to argue, to let your feelings out. It’s nearly disappeared in football life because when something happens, players keep it inside and they are pissed over the next three weeks.
That’s not what I want to see with anybody. There can be a little battle but, afterwards, shake hands and forget about it. That is a culture I like.
The German has been a rock this season, and is one of the most in-form defenders in the country at present. His combination with Laurent Kosciely is now even being heralded as a potential contender for Arsenal’s history books should they add some silverware to their flourishing partnership.
One person who has been integral to the Gunners new found defensive resilience is one of the clubs most famous defenders Steve Bould. The former centre back has had an impact on the training ground according to Mertesacker.
The German said:
Steve likes to work with us, especially with the back four. We are grateful for his influence, his tips and his little hints as to what we might do better in any situation.
We’ve worked just on details and that’s what it’s about, that’s what really pays off now. From the start, he tried to be an influence. He’s a good addition on the coaching staff.
With his current contractual terms set to expire in 2015, there has been much speculation over a proposed new deal for the first choice centre back.
Arsene Wenger has been hugely influential on his Arsenal career to date and the defender wants to pay him back with an extended contract, something he says is heading in a good direction.
The first year wasn’t that successful but, after that, with how the manager dealt with the situation and helped me to come back even stronger … that is something very special so that’s why my target is to extend my contract here. We are in good progress with the negotiations. It’s up to the manager, of course, but I am really up for it.
Mertesacker has been hugely influential for the Gunners, especially over the last twelve months. His experience and technical nous has been vital to their evolution into a strong defensive unit, something they must prove against potentially the strongest attacking duo in the League this weekend.
Kosacker managed a clean sheet last time at Emirates, time to do that all over again at Anfield.