English Premiership

Mertesacker admits tension in Arsenal squad

2017-03-06 17:06
Per Mertesacker (TEAMtalk)

London Colney - Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker admitted to tension in the dressing room on Monday and said his struggling team haven't shown enough fight, on the eve of their Champions League mission impossible.

Arsene Wenger's side crashed to a third defeat in their last four Premier League games on Saturday as Liverpool beat them 3-1 at Anfield and the Arsenal manager has had to dismiss reports of a training-ground bust-up involving star forward Alexis Sanchez.

Wenger dropped Sanchez against Liverpool, only introducing him at half-time when his team already trailed by two goals.

It was the worst possible preparation for Arsenal's Champions League last-16 second leg against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, when they face the almost impossible task of overturning a 5-1 deficit.

And to make matters worse, German defender Mertesacker conceded Arsenal haven't been willing to put their bodies on the line.

"I think we saw on a lot of occasions that we absolutely weren't ready for a fight," Mertesacker told reporters at the club's training base.

"That is what I want to see tomorrow. That we are up for a fight, to challenge for something. We haven't competed a lot in recent games and we need to turn that around.

"At Liverpool we had a chance to go for it, to push it, even without our best player on the pitch."

Arsenal's troubles have brought renewed criticism of Wenger from fans and pundits, with many claiming it is time for the Frenchman to step down after almost 21 years with the north Londoners.

Mertesacker, who has been with Arsenal since 2011, admitted the current dip has led to a fraught atmosphere, but he insisted the players still support Wenger.

"It's hard for the manager to select the team but he does it with the best intention. We trust him," Mertesacker said.

"It's a little bit tense but it's normal in a stretch like that. We want to change it and you can feel that in every training session.

"We need to make the first step to get the fans on board again."

Mertesacker refused to be drawn on reports that Sanchez has become isolated from the rest of the squad after apparently criticising his team-mates following the Bayern first leg.

Amid suggestions Sanchez wants to leave, Mertesacker was asked how the Chilean was regarded by the players.

"I don't understand the question. Every single day we try to train," Mertesacker said.

"The manager has 25 options so it is difficult for him to decide who is in the squad. Everyone wants to push to be in that starting line-up.

"All these questions about one player are very distracting to our team. The club will not be about one single player."

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Fixtures
Friday, 28 February 2020
Norwich City v Leicester City, Carrow Road 22:00
Saturday, 29 February 2020
Aston Villa v Sheffield United, Villa Park 02:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace, The American Express Community Stadium 14:30
West Ham United v Southampton, London Stadium 17:00
Newcastle United v Burnley, St. James' Park 17:00
AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea, Vitality Stadium 17:00
Watford v Liverpool, Vicarage Road 19:30
Sunday, 01 March 2020
Manchester City v Arsenal, Etihad Stadium 02:00
Everton v Manchester United, Goodison Park 16:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 16:00
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

And the 2019/20 English Premiership champions will be ... ?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2019/20 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.