Per Mertesacker scores unlikely backheel goal in training

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"Per Mertesacker just isn’t up to it...Wenger can do the classy thing and keep sticking the big flopping German on the bench week in week out, or stick him in the Gunnersaurus costume to give him time on the pitch at the Emirates."

They were the words of Adrian Durham in an August column for The Mail. I won't link to the quotes, but you can get to them by searching 'Mertesacker Gunnersaurus' in Google. Trust me, don't waste your time.

Not for the first time the talkSPORT clown has been proven wrong. Mertesacker has great technique and is certainly more deserving of hiding behind the face of a big green dinosaur.

More criticism

Mertesacker again had to put up with unjustified criticism from the loudest of pitch side father's, Maciej Szczesny. The former Poland international claimed his son Wojciech had been dropped because Mertesacker, compared to a rhino, couldn't protect him.

But if only Mr Durham and Mr Szczesny had been at Arsenal's London Colney headquarters this afternoon to see Mertesacker score a goal that reeks with technique. Arsenal were so proud of it, they leaked the video themselves for the whole world to enjoy.

The Video

The Arsenal centre-back was at his usual near-post position for an offensive corner routine where the ball eventually bounced to him in the six yard box. With his back to goal the German flicked the ball past the goalkeeper with a delightful backheel shot.

Is he really up to it?

There have been growing questions over Mertesacker's position in the squad this season with his age starting to become a concern. Recently 30, the 1.98m centre-back is only going to get slower and less fit. Young guns like Calum Chambers are also pushing for regular starting spots.

The arrival of Gabriel is likely to loosen Mertesacker's position in the squad even more, but it is clear Arsene Wenger has profound respect for the World Cup winner. The Arsenal manager has made him the vice-captain of the squad and the unofficial debt collector when anyone in the squad breaks the rules.

Eventually he will have to accept a lesser role on the bench, but it is clear Mertesacker's position within the Arsenal team is secure.

Would Arsenal fans like to see Per Mertesacker replaced in the summer or is he fit to continue as the first choice centre-back until 2016? Have your say in the comment box below!

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Per Mertesacker
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