Speaking after yesterday’s game, Arsenal vice-captain Per Mertesacker was full of praise for our front line following their ruthless display, and highlighted their importance when we play on the break (via Arsenal.com). The veteran German defender also revealed that the team had needed a performance like that to secure a ‘vital’ win and remind themselves of their capabilities.
In an interview with Arsenal Player, he said, “I think it was vital for us to stay [near] the top of the Premier League. The distance between us and the top is not far, so it was vital. Also the way we started the game was good for us and very important.
“We pushed really hard in the first ten or 15 minutes, and after that we tried to defend as well as possible, and most of the time we did that. The start was not shocking for us, I think we are capable of doing that, but we have to kind of remind ourselves that we can do such things.
“It’s very important for us that they [Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez] find each other in the final third. You could see the little pass from Theo Walcott to Mesut Özil, how important that was, just a tiny little ball, and on the break we are very dangerous, especially when they are involved.”
Although we were dominant in the first half, United still had a couple of good chances close to half-time, and a few more potential opportunities in the second half when we sat back and allowed them to monopolise the ball. It took a few good defensive tackles and a couple of reflex saves from Petr Cech to ultimately secure a clean sheet. Speaking about the defensive aspect of the game, Mertesacker said that it had been a “tough” and “physical” fight.
“Defensively it was a tough fight, especially in the second half when Fellaini came on,” he continued.
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“He is always very physical but we did quite well. We gave them two or three chances, but we have a great goalkeeper as well and he did well also, so defensively I think we can build on that. Now we have a little break and in two weeks we come together again and we have to remind ourselves what we can do.”
Cech saved a certain goal close to half-time, when Anthony Martial was through after Mertesacker failed to clear and went tumbling clumsily to the ground. While it was an almost flawless performance from us; there were moments when Martial in particular ran rings around the much slower Mertesacker. When we play Bayern Munich and face goal machine Robert Lewandowski, it might be better for us to have a fully fit Laurent Koscielny in the starting lineup.