Arsenal Transfer News: Per Mertesacker's Transfer Denials Are Great News For Arsenal

 
on March 19 2013 10:55 AM

According to Sky Sports, Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker has denied recent transfer rumors he will move back to the Bundesliga this summer. His denials are great news for the Gunners, because they need their best defender.

That's exactly what Mertesacker is for Arsene Wenger's squad. Since his arrival in the summer of 2011, Mertesacker has endured a torrent of ill-judged and unfair criticism.

Many fans were not initially impressed with his name value and pounced on his well-known lack of pace. However, those critics missed or ignored the qualities that make Mertesacker an accomplished centre-back.

He exudes the kind of calm authority Arsenal's back line has missed during most of their eight-year trophy drought. Mertesacker is a true organiser at the back.

He is the studious marshal along the back four and when he has enjoyed control of the defence, Arsenal have performed better. Mertesacker has been at his best in Arsenal's last two games and the defence hasn't been breached in either contest.

Against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, it was Mertesacker who could be seen directing the movement of Arsenal's defensive line. He shouted instructions and directed movement with his arms, like a conductor in complete control.

He was the same in the next match against Swansea City. The result was a pair of 2-0 wins. It's no coincidence that Mertesacker has featured in all 10 of Arsenal's 10 clean sheets in the English Premier League this season.

Mertesacker is often referred to as a "thinking man's" defender. That label has been used to praise and deride the Germany international.

He certainly uses an ability to read game to compensate for his lack of speed and agility. Because he anticipates the flow of play, Mertesacker puts himself in a position to break up attacks.

He doesn't have to scramble to suddenly react. Certainly, when he is forced to turn Mertesacker can struggle, but he usually pounces before that happens.

His style of defending is more akin to that of a sweeper rather than an active stopper. Mertesacker will often stay deep and wait for attacks to build, before stepping out to intercept or clear at key moments.

Wenger's challenge has been finding the right partner for him. Mertesacker needs to be paired with a defender who will allow him to stay deep.

That's why things haven't worked out as well with Thomas Vermaelen next to the Towering German. Vermaelen's rash forays forward and wild lunges towards the ball, often let attackers get behind Arsenal's defence too easily.

That forces Mertesacker to try and react quickly to sudden danger, rather than something he has waited for and watched develop. Laurent Koscielny has proved a better foil for the ex-Werder Bremen skipper.

The Frenchman anticipates danger better than Vermaelen and is generally more precise in his tackling. Similar to Mertescaker, Koscielny thrives by reading what's in front of him, rather than defending with an attacking mentality.

Knowing Koscielny with hold his position, lets Mertesacker maintain his. So the structure of Arsenal's defence is already more solid.

From there Mertesacker can use his intelligence and authority to defend attacks on his own terms. It's worked very well against quick passing teams relying on varied off the ball movement.

The real test for the Koscielny-Mertesacker partnership will come from more physical opponents, who encourage a more frenetic, direct pace to the game.

However, as Mertesacker grows in confidence, he should finally become comfortable with that side of the English Premier League. Arsenal should continue to give their cerebral sweeper greater responsibility at the back.

Mertesacker is emerging as the true leader of Arsenal's defensive line and the Gunners are enjoying the benefit. Wenger should be very glad Mertesacker intends to stay in North London for the foreseeable future.

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