When Per Mertesacker joined the Club last summer, the demands of the schedule meant there simply wasn’t time for him to be slowly integrated into English football. An injury to Thomas Vermaelen saw the German international thrown straight into the action, but he handled it with the calmness and composure that marks his defending.
By his own admission, Per initially took some time to find his feet in the Premier League after his move from Werder Bremen, but once he did it soon became clear Arsène Wenger had made another shrewd addition to his squad.
Mertesacker’s growing influence was key as the Gunners climbed the table in October and November, his experience and reading of the game proving invaluable to Wenger’s new-look team. Per soon formed a solid partnership with Laurent Koscielny, and the sight of the German dropping back and sweeping up behind the backline became a common one for Arsenal supporters.
Disappointingly for both Per and his manager, the centre back sustained an ankle injury against Sunderland in February and was ruled out for the rest of the domestic season. It was a particular blow because the 27-year-old had been hitting his best form in an Arsenal shirt, but he returned in time to take his place in the Germany squad for Euro 2012.
It has been an impressive first year in English football for Per, and with a season under his belt, there is every reason to believe he is only going to get better and better.
“If you have no pre-season with the team then that makes it more difficult. People think it's easy to connect with your club, your team-mates, but it takes time. It's getting better and better and hopefully I can keep improving now. Let me play a season and you can get [the full picture] of my personality and my ability as a footballer."
On the occasion of the Club’s 125th anniversary, Mertesacker delivered one of his most impressive performances in Arsenal’s 1-0 win against Everton. Robin van Persie grabbed the headlines for his wondergoal, but the German centre back was in imperious form at the back to keep the visitors quiet.
Per in command at Emirates Stadium