Mertesacker relishing derby battle

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Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker expects Sunday's game against Tottenham will be like no other derby he has played in before.

Mertesacker has become a regular fixture at the heart of the Arsenal defence since completing his £10million move from Werder Bremen last month. The towering centre half had spent the previous five years at the German club, whose closest rivalry was with Hamburg - a club 60 miles away.

He said: "This is my first special game for Arsenal. A lot of people have been telling me about it, how massive it is, and what a special experience it is and I am looking forward to it. There is nothing similar to it in Germany."

Mertesacker has received mixed reviews for his five appearances so far for Arsenal - the last of which was in Wednesday night's 2-1 Champions League group stage win over Olympiacos.

Injuries to other defenders have not helped the German, but he revealed former Arsenal players Jens Lehmann and Mikael Silvestre have given him some advice about how to cope with the challenges of the English game.


"I got some advice from Jens. He was my goalkeeper since the 2006 World Cup," Mertesacker said.

"He gave me a lot of advice about the game in England. Living in London is very different to living in a little town in Germany. I got a lot of advice from Mikael Silvestre, who I played with last year. They told me the Premier League is more intense, quicker and very physical. I have had to get used to it very quickly."

Mertesacker sealed his move to the Emirates Stadium on deadline day after Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger failed in his bid to sign Gary Cahill from Bolton.

The 6ft 6in German, 27, revealed he would have moved to the Emirates Stadium last summer, had he got his way.

He said: "I only knew about Arsenal's interest three days before I moved. Then Arsene Wenger called my agent and said that 'perhaps you can be my man' or something like that. I had to do what he wanted because, one year before, he asked for me and the manager of Werder Bremen didn't let me go and I wanted to."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Per Mertesacker
Premier League

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