Per Mertesacker says the fans can help Arsenal “raise the tension” inside stadiums for the run-in to the season.

Arsène Wenger’s side are currently 11 points adrift of Leicester City in the Premier League title race, but have a game in hand against 11th-placed West Bromwich Albion.

The Gunners travel to Everton next, but Mertesacker says the fans’ continued support can help the team return to their free-flowing best.

“It helps us to get going when we warm up,” he told the Arsenal Weekly podcast. “We want to see how the fans are doing as well. It’s not only us, you need to feel that everyone is in the stands ready for the game.

“They already want to prepare themselves as well to keep the tension or raise it in the stadium. That was a good feeling when we warmed up in front of the mosaic [against Barcelona] and it was a good idea.

“We want to treat every opponent the same, which means to give them the same respect, so every single game will be a tough challenge. Let’s keep the tension for a proper fight, a proper challenge and that is to respect every opponent, no matter where they stand or their position in the league table. I think it’s the same for the fans.”

Mertesacker has featured in many big games during his five years at Arsenal, but he says that nothing compares to Emirates Stadium’s atmosphere on north London derby day.

“Any derby against Tottenham is a special moment for the fans and you can feel that,” he said. “Champions League night games are special as well but derbies against Tottenham, when you have great performances like the 5-2 games, the moments when I scored, are the most emotional moments for me at this club.

“That moment was just unbelievable. When you feel everyone is really up for the challenge but also when you contribute with a goal as well, that makes you buzz from top to bottom. That was one of my most emotional moments at Arsenal.”

Per Mertesacker celebrates his goal against Spurs
Per Mertesacker celebrates his goal against Spurs

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Max Jones 17 Mar 2016