Defining Moments: Youngsters step up

As another season draws to a close, Arsenal can look back with pride on a campaign that offers genuine cause for optimism.

Per Mertesacker was a near ever-present throughout 2014/15, and here he explains some of his defining moments from the past 10 months.

The emergence of Bellerin and Coquelin
For all of the star names in the Arsenal squad, it was the emergence of Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin that would prove critical to their season. That both started the FA Cup final despite the return to fitness of their positional rivals highlights just how important they have become.

Bellerin had barely featured for the first team before he was thrown into action following an injury to Mathieu Debuchy, but he went from strength to strength over the course of the season. His searing pace, intelligence, maturity and hunger to learn marks him out as a special talent.

Coquelin’s story was even more intriguing. Out on loan at Championship club Charlton in December, he admits he was annoyed to be recalled after an injury to Mikel Arteta as he felt he would not play. But when his chance came, he grabbed it with both hands, adding much-needed balance to the midfield and delivering one of the performances of the season as Arsenal won away at Manchester City.

“We need everyone with us and really in form,” Mertesacker told Arsenal Player. “That means everyone contributes, no matter where they are in the squad. That is really important for the energy of the team. When you get some young players in and they get time to play, that is unusual for normal seasons but they hit the ground running from the start and you saw the potential. Not only potential, they executed it and that is something you want to see.”

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