Merte­sacker primed to an­swer Ar­se­nal SOS

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.