Per Mertesacker was one of the so-called panic buys from Wenger at the very end of the summer transfer window. He was seen as the ideal signing to ease Arsenal’s defensive issues, issues that have plagued them for many years now – they were easily beaten by physical challenges at the back. They couldn’t rely on The Verminator due to injury concerns. So in came the big German for £10m.
So, how has the big German settled in to the Premier League? In truth it’s been a mixed bag, with the player showing signs of class but also getting caught out on several occasions. His reading of the game is tremendous, but his lack of pace is frightening. Its not he is not mobile, because he is, but he is not fast by any stretch of the imagination. This allied to Wenger’s preference for a high line have made Per appear worse than he actually is – 75 caps for Germany is testament to the man’s class. I believe that next season he will prove even better, having aclimatised to the way Arsenal play – he will be able to make allowances for their cavalier attitude to defending as a team. As it stands at the minute he is out for the season, but is expected to make it back for the Euros which, given Germany are among the favourites, should boost his morale after a season ending injury. He cannot magically increase his pace, but his experience this season should make him even better prepared for next season.
So, I say, welcome to the jungle, Per Mertesacker. The big German with high expectations for next season.