Per Mertesacker admits Arsenal fans did not see the best of him last season, in his first year as an Arsenal player.
The German centre-back made a late move to the club from Werder Bremen, joining a team that had gone through many changes of personnel over the summer.
Initially criticised for being off the pace and struggling with the English game, Mertesacker has been the team’s best defender this season, and he admits he feels more confident and on-form now.
“I think my first year was quite tough. You need to be patient here to settle down completely.
“This year I feel much more comfortable in my game and all around in the dressing room, with the language. That makes you feel more welcome, more recognised and it’s a better feeling.
“Everybody wants to take responsibility and wants to play. We have a very strong squad at the moment. When you get time to play, and feel good, and play better than last year, then you feel more confident to do everything.”
Mertesacker will face a tough test this weekend, when he is reunited with former team-mate Robin van Persie, now of Manchester United, and he knows he will have to be on top of his game to deal with the Dutchman.
“He’s very skilful and has movement you don’t expect. He’s one of the players where he has to feel that you are there all the time and that’s what we as a team have to do on Saturday.
“In one way [training together helps], you expect his movement or you might anticipate his movement. He’s one of the players who can change his movements very quickly because he’s very skilful and has ability, we have seen it last year.”
Mertesacker was speaking to Arsenal Player, on the official site.
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