Past It? Does Mertesacker Need To Be Replaced, Or Is He Still A Key Player?

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The BFG. Mertesacker started his Arsenal career way back in 2011 as one of the so called ‘panic buys’. After a baptism of fire at Old Trafford when Arsenal lost 8-2 to Manchester United, Mertescaker has gone from strength to strength at the heart of Arsenal’s defense. He was an integral part of Arsenal winning their first trophy for an unprecedented amount of years. However recently he has come under criticism for a slow start this term. It has left many fans questioning the big German and his future at Arsenal.

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This season the Mertesacker-Koscielny partnership looks far from the one which was not beaten for over 30 games. Arsenal have played 15 games and conceded 17 goals, this is not title winning statistics. Chelsea have played 14 games and only conceded 12. Mertesacker has had a slow start to the season after the hangover from his World Cup triumph with Germany. Abel Hernandez of Hull easily beat him in the air, where he looked to be back to the slow and sluggish Mertesacker that arrived from Werder Bremen.

Arsenal have failed to get the same back four out much this season due to injuries, suspensions etc (as usual). Debuchy had started his Arsenal career like a house on fire but an injury to him left little cover with young Calum Chambers having to fill in. Laurent Koscielny is the latest in a long line of players to be added to the long term injury list. Any hope of continuity between the back four has been dashed for the foreseeable future. It is hard for any centre back to play alongside someone who they have not played with on a regular basis.

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The lack of protection in from of the back four is another major concern Arsenal have. Having failed to get Khedira in the summer they have had to rely on the likes of Flamini and Wilshere. However Mertesacker has had a slow start regardless of the lack of continuity and lack of protection. Selling Thomas Vermaelen was undoubtedly a mistake by Wenger. The price was right and for any player the chance to play at Barcelona is one not to be missed. However apart from the young and inexperienced Calum Chambers Arsenal have failed to replace him. They needed to bring in another centre back to provide cover. Matt Hummels was the ideal man to come in. The Dortmund captain was on the radar of both Manchester United and Arsenal this summer despite pledging his faith to Dortmund with a new contract. Hummels was one of the players of the World Cup and would be ideal with the German contingent at Arsenal. Arsenal would have to pay a large sum to acquire his services. Arsenal now are in a position of financial stability and would be wise to spend it on a proven, yet young centre back. This would give Arsenal four centre backs which you need to compete on all four fronts. It would also allow Mertesacker more time off when he is playing badly and would warrant for injuries which Arsenal always seem to pick up.

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Per Mertesacker has had a slow start to this season but he is by no means past it. He has been solid since adapting to the Premier League. However I think it is time Arsenal emerged from the usual top four mentality and went big and signed a really good centre back for example Hummels who would compliment the likes of Mertesacker particularly when he is having a hard time of things.