Ian Wright criticises Per Mertesacker for poor Arsenal form

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright has spoken out about his frustration with Per Mertesacker, hinting during a BBC radio show with 5 Live that the German defender is the weakest link in Arsene Wenger's team.

The former Gunners striker claimed that if he was still playing professional football he'd be targeting the lanky centre-back for special attention in a bid to take advantage of the many flaws in his game.

Mertesacker was subjected to criticism following his part played in the late Liverpool equaliser during Sunday's 2-2 draw at Anfield, and Wright admitted he was annoyed by the £70,000-a-week star's lack of dominance - particularly in the air.

The absence of preferred partner Laurent Koscielny through injury has raised serious questions about the former Werder Bremen star's capability to lead from the back, with suggestions that his ongoing failure to successfully organise Arsenal's defence could eventually see him dropped from the starting line-up.

Wenger is already on the lookout for a central defender after failing to replace Thomas Vermaelen during the summer, and Wright will certainly be hoping the new recruit has the ability to put pressure on Mertesacker for his place in the team.

"It's one of those where I do watch and with Per, he's someone who if I was still playing I'd try and get myself against him," said the 51-year-old. "He does seem like he's got a lot of flaws.

"What annoys me is the height of him. You're talking about the last knockings of a game, [Martin] Skrtel's head's bandaged up, he's going in there, he's a warrior for them, why wouldn't you be close to him?

"Per being our biggest man why wouldn't you do that job? You shouldn't have to be told. [Calum] Chambers was coming off the post to try and engage Skrtel whose already got a run on the ball, he's got no chance."

Wenger defends Mertesacker

Wenger leapt to the defence of Mertesacker during Tuesday's pre-match press conference ahead of Arsenal's Boxing Day clash against Queens Park Rangers at the Emirates Stadium, suggesting that the Germany international was not solely to blame for Liverpool's equalising goal.

However, he did concede that a post-World Cup hangover has taken its toll on the 30-year-old, who was given extra recovery time before returning to pre-season training with compatriots Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski after their summer exploits.

"I don't want to go into any individual assessment," the French tactician was quoted saying by the London Evening Standard. "I believe Mertesacker gives his best and that on the corner we conceded it was more organisational, more collective a problem because no one talks and we were more caught on that.

"We rectify it by working on it. Usually we are not bad on set-pieces defensively. We have one of the better records in the League but, occasionally, it can happen."

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Ian Wright
Premier League
Per Mertesacker

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