There is an uncertainty among Arsenal fans as to whether Per Mertesacker has the qualities required to play for the club.
After arriving from Werder Bremen in the summer of 2011, it seemed like a great defender was going to be added to Arsene Wenger's squad. Being German and standing at a towering height of 6'6, he looked like a big powerful signing who would strengthen the Arsenal defence.
However, Mertesacker did not have this impact. Disappointing in his first campaign for the Gunners, he slightly improved in his second season but not by much.
So, why is he not good enough for Arsenal?
Firstly Mertesacker does not utilise his giant stature. Given his physical nature, Mertesacker looks relatively strong and he is not expected to lose out in aerial battles but this is not the case. Too often, Mertesacker is pushed off the ball and does not utilise the strength he has. This makes him frustrating to watch where he loses out on balls that he should be winning.
Another bad aspect about his play is his poor aerial ability. Although he wins his fair share of headers, he does not win as many as he should. Commonly losing out in battles he should be dominating in, due to his height, he allows opponents of various sizes to beat him and expose the Arsenal defence.
Additionally to these bad traits, Mertesacker is not a Premier League player. In many games last season he was beaten for pace far too easily, simply because he cannot keep up with the ever-growing intensity in the Premier League. The "BFG" has a real lack of speed that, at any moment in a match, could jeopardise Arsenal's defence.
As well as slow physical attributes, the German has a very slow and dull footballing mentality. Very few of Mertesacker's passes are forward. More often than not, his passes would go sideways or backwards causing Arsenal's game to slow down and releasing all pressure on the opposition. Fellow centre back, Laurent Koscielny, does not have any of these problems. He is fast, knows where the goal is, and is more intelligent driving the game forward.
Although Mertesacker had a satisfactory 2012/13 season, he will not be a player who will be able to take Arsenal forward. He had good points in the season and developed a solid partnership with Koscielny but overall, Arsenal need a centre back who is a quicker, faster and more intelligent.
Perhaps Mertesacker could be used as a back up as he could do the job to an acceptable standard, but not produce anything special.
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