Mertesacker primed to answer Arsenal SOS
LONDON: World Cup-winning central defender Per Mertesacker says he is fit to make his first start in more than a year when Arsenal take on Chelsea in the FA Cup final tomorrow.
The 32-year-old German, who retired from international football a month after winning the 2014 World Cup, will arrive at Wembley with just 37 minutes of action under his belt this season following knee surgery last summer.
But with first-choice centrebacks Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel unavailable and Shkodran Mustafi a doubt, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may have no choice but to see if Mertesacker can not only cope with Chelsea striker Diego Costa but also last the entire game.
Koscielny is banned, Gabriel out for around two months with a knee injury and Mustafi a concern because of the after-effects of concussion, in a game that could decide Wenger’s future at the club.
“I haven’t played this year but I have been used to doing this for 15 years so I expect myself to be absolutely ready no matter what comes,” the Arsenal captain Mertesacker told a press conference on Wednesday.
“No matter what I am facing on Saturday I am going to go for it. I owe this to this team and this club.
“I want to make sure I am 100 per cent ready and my mindset is to be ready for 120 minutes plus penalties.”
Mertesacker last started on April 30 last year, when he was substituted early in the second half of a 1-0 victory at home to Norwich City. AFP
Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker