German defender Per Mertesacker believes that Arsenal are proving the critics wrong, who wrote off the north London side earlier on in the season, reports the Daily Star.
The Gunners came under fire after falling off the pace at the start of the Premier League, while the mountain of criticism peaked after they were knocked out of the Champions League round of 16 to Monaco.
That disappointing night is now a faded memory with Arsenal becoming the closest contenders to Premier League leaders Chelsea, as well as booking themselves a trip to Wembley to play Reading in the FA Cup semi-final this weekend.
“I am delighted with how the team responded to the criticism that came our way,” said Mertesacker.
“We are in a good position now [but at the start] we suffered a lot of injuries to players who were amazing last season, so we had to replace them with youngsters.
“But there was always a good energy because they proved they can deliver good performances for the team and that raised everyone’s level. I am delighted with the team’s performances throughout the year.”
Arsenal, who have a number of international stars, were clearly affected by the World Cup in Brazil last summer.
They had eleven players taking part in the tournament, with three German players joining up with the squad late - which includes Mertesacker.
“It is a completely new experience for a lot of players to have post-world cup difficulties,” the German defender said.
"Those who came from the World Cup had no break and no pre-season, we started right in the season and [had to] try to find form.
“Lots of players got injured or weren't in the best form, so it took us a while to be at our top level.
“But the belief and trust of the manager and the inner core of the club has been absolutely amazing.
“This means more to me than what happened in the first few months with the lack of form and the criticism.”
If Mertesacker and the rest of the Arsenal contingent want to truly dispel any criticisms, then they would have to finish the season in the same flawless form they’ve shown in the past few months.
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