Per Mertesacker says that the New Year’s Day defeat to Southampton acted as a “wake-up call” for the Arsenal squad.
Since then the Gunners have won five games in a row for the first time this season, conceding just two goals.
Mertesacker has been pleased with the team’s response to the loss at St Mary’s, and says their defensive solidity is a collective effort.
"Maybe sometimes you need a wake-up call to realise what is really important"
“Southampton was a major setback - it was a bad start to the year,” the vice-captain said. “After that, we promised ourselves to come out of that comfort zone and be a bit more focused, especially [to know] that what comes first is defensive work and not just for the back four.
“That was maybe the main thing for us to focus on, and afterwards we played more convincingly, especially defensively. You can see the benefit when everyone realises that, and I thought everyone realised it very quickly after we lost at Southampton.
“Maybe sometimes you need a wake-up call to realise what is really important. We worked a lot on our defensive shape, not just the back four, to avoid those dangerous free balls against us. We look much better and the best game defensively was against Man City - that was a bit of a change.
“In the last few years, we went there and wanted to convince everybody that we could play our own way, so it was a bit of a change [this time]. Sometimes we have to do something unexpected, and that was maybe the winning moment.”
Copyright 2021 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.