By Chris Harris

Per Mertesacker is far better than the critics would have you believe.

That's the verdict of Arsène Wenger nearly three months after he bolstered his back four with the Germany international.

Mertesacker has been a virtual ever-present since signing from Werder Bremen just before the transfer deadline and Wenger believes he brings qualities that have gone unrecognised.

"I feel people have been harsh in their judgement," said the manager.

"I like Per very much, because he is a very intelligent boy and reads the game very well. He has a calming influence, a commanding influence.

"Because he is so tall, sometimes if he looks less impressive in one situation, people make a definite negative judgement.

"But he grows stronger in every game and we watched him again in Germany against Holland in midweek, and he had an outstanding performance. I am really happy with him."

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 19 Nov 2011