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The Per Mertesacker fact files

By Walter Broeckx

As on Untold we do like to make the new players feel like home it is important that you get to know the players a bit more.

So I will try to give you some impressions on Per Mertesacker to start with.

To start with he was born on September 29, 1984 and is 26 years young. That is if I look at it from my point of the age table.  But for an Arsenal signing he is rather old.

Well he is rather a big boy. In fact I think he will become our biggest outfield player if not the biggest player of the whole team. For those who want to have a good laugh and who are familiar with Twitter I would suggest to go the twitter account under the name arsenalMedTeam. They made a great picture during his medical. Apparently Arshavin was still in London when they took it.  With his 1m98 or 6ft6in he really is big.

He first played for the youth teams of TSV Pattensen and then went to Hannover96. Since 2003 he has been playing for Hannover and in total he played 90 games and scoring 8 goals in them for that club.

He then went to Werder Bremen in the year 2006. He then already played for the German national team. In fact he got his first cap when he was just 20 years old. And that after only playing a handful of games in the first team.   And since then he always played for the German national team when he was fit.  Now I don’t have anything against Cahill and would welcome him but does Cahill has the same international pedigree like Mertesacker? Now it could be that one German coach was wrong in playing him, but in fact the coach that came after Klinsmann who made him a full timer international also stuck with him. He has played 75 games for Germany until now. And depending on when the article will be published it could 76 when you read this.

Now I do would like to point at the fact that the German national team is not a bad team at all. In fact in both World cups he reached the semi finals with Germany so Per really knows how to play in high profile games and tournaments.  So for those who want to say Per Mertesacker is rubbish … I really doubt you have any knowledge of football. Unless of course al his managers in club and country are rubbish.  NOT.

Back to Werder Bremen. Unlike the EPL where only 2 or 3 clubs are capable of winning the PL we have a different situation in Germany. They have only one dominating team. Bayern Munchen. And when Bayern has a bad season for some reason all the other teams could win the title.  I remember some time ago that Kaiserlautern came from the 2nd Bundesliga, became champions in their first season in the Bundesliga and then….went back down to the 2nd Bundesliga the next season. Imagine QPR coming to the EPL, win it this season and then go down the next.  Impossible? Yes in the EPL but not in the Bundesliga.

So the Bundesliga is a very tough league to play in with most teams really very close to each other and everyone capable of winning each game.   Per Mertesacker has been playing 147 games for Werder so far and he managed to score 12 goals in those games. He scores around 1 goal in 11 games. So one can expect him to score some 3 or maybe 4 goals in a season. And I would take such a number from any defender.

But attacking is not his main task. Defending is. And then you get some very strange statistics. I have seen statistics of Mertesacker winning an average of around 85-86% of his duels.  And I have seen statistics of games in which he won 100% of the aerial battles.  What I remember from him is that he is very good at judging the flight of the ball and with is length he certainly uses it to his advantage.  If he can keep that record on his aerial battles we will be very safe when we face the high and long ball teams.

A very important asset of Mertesacker and his defending is the fact that he doesn’t make much fouls. In fact he has more fouls given against him than the other way round. This is strange for a central defender. This season so far in 4 games he made 4 fouls and was fouled 6 times.  And then his cards. Or better said the lack of cards. In all his years in the Bundesliga he has picked up 2 red cards and 9 yellow cards. This in 212 games in the Bundesliga. And to make things ever stranger of those 9 yellow cards 4 of them were picked up in one season.  Since being in the Bundesliga he has had 5 seasons without one yellow card.

Okay you might say: this is because the German refs give him nothing because he is a German international player. But then we have to take a look at his record for Germany. Where there are no German refs to “protect” him. And in the 75 international games he has played he has received…..1 (one – einz in German) yellow card. An no red cards.  Is there any central defender out there in the world who has been playing 287 games and only picked up 10 yellow cards?

So it will be very, very, very interesting to see if this statistic will be the same in the EPL. Will the refs turn against the giant German defender? Will it be because he is German….or because he would be an Arsenal player.  So in fact if he gets more than one yellow card this season…. we ref reviewers will have a close look at this as you can imagine.

What can we tell about Mertesacker and his private life? He is not married as far as I know but he lives together with his girl friend Ulrike Stange, with whom he has a son since 24 April 2011. She is a rather sporting women. In fact she is a handball player in Germany and even an international. But in the past she has moved teams to be able to live together with Per so maybe she will go to a London women handball team now?  She has been playing  36 games for the German national handball team. But in 2008 she had a knee injury which cost her the Olympic games.  But she still was playing at club level in the last years.

So what do we have ? A big, strong defender with lots of international experience. A defender who is known over the world for the fact that he is a ball playing defender who hardly makes fouls and who  hardly gets cards. And a player who has his own charity fund also.

And the most important thing and this is something that is the same for a lot of players we have bought this summer: he just happens to be an Arsenal supporter.  He has an Arsenal shirt since he was a kid and he said in the German media that coming to Arsenal is a childhood dream being fulfilled. He has a connection with Arsenal for many years.  He feels an emotional bond with Arsenal since may years. And he was as disgusted on Sunday as most of us were.

So yet another Gunner-Gooner to play for the Arsenal. Like I once wrote when writing a song about Arsenal : …I sing for you Gunners, to be Gooners in arms”… So I think we have another Gooner on the field. Now let us Gooners in the stand support our Gooner on the field. Wilkommen Per Mertesacker!

38 comments to The Per Mertesacker fact files

  • Charles

    I am going to reserve judgement until I see him play in the EPL. I have a bad feeling he won’t do as well as I hope/everyone thinks he will.

    I do hope his transfer is a successful one though.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    I suspect he’ll be brilliant if we can suffocate play into our opponents third and force them to go long ball. Against teams that like to counter on the ground, in a high line he’s not the best option. If we’re last ditch defending he could be a real asset but realistically, how often do we have ten behind the ball?

  • nicky

    While I must reserve judgement, being a realist sort of guy, I have a good feeling that he will do better in the EPL than someone thinks he will.
    At least he WANTS to play for us.

  • Dark Prince

    I top quality signing…. Though i guess the pace of english football might bite him… Plus Arsenal playin a high line can make it a problem for him to run back towards the box if any winger breaks through from the flanks…lets see

  • Arnab

    Amazing fact.
    What a bargain, we bought him under 10m pounds. He is one of the best underrated defender of the world.

  • Shishir

    I’m really looking forward to him playing as well; he looks like he could be a tremendous player for us. Don’t you wonder though what might happen to him if we played an exceptionally high defensive line like we did against Manchester United? Nobody in our defense looked like they had the pace and the anticipation to play such a high line against such a fast team. Do you guys think Per will be able to do well there?

    Please pardon me in advance for being slightly anal, unfortunately, it’s in my nature!

  • John

    Good player in the air and on the deck. Reads the game well. This hides his lack of pace (which is a concern).

  • JohnW

    Now Walter, may be you haven’t read The Sun. There’s an article there thatrubishes all our signings this season, in fact their scale tips Garry Cahill above Martesacker, Scott Parker above Arteta, in fact the summation is that we signed more or less s..t! Reading between lines they write off Park, Benayoun. So I will repeat what I’ve been saying for some time now, the media are out to push Wenger out of Arsenal. And they might be helped, a bit, by the referees. Ofcourse I might be wrong, we will see, and very soon.

  • Davi

    My only reservations on him are unfairly based on the terrible form of Squillaci, who did have a very decent career before joining arsenal, being an international, winning titles etc. However, these are very different players and mertesacker is significantly younger, and has been a real regular for his national side, while squillaci was only ever a fringe player, at best.

  • Zack

    Come on Per, Prove to all the Gooners that you are the CB we were looking for…

  • ITG

    I cannot see how such a good player will not be successful in the EPL. He has played against some pretty good attackers both in Germany and on the world stage – one needs to remember that he has played against the best such as Argentina in the last World Cup. Cahill was found wanting by Suarez last weekend (as most centre backs would be) and Terry and Vidic have been terrific without much pace. Of course they are sometimes found wanting as Vidic was by Torres a couple of years ago but normally they are very solid as I would expect Per to be. If Per plays with either Vermaellen or Koscielny there should not be a problem as they are both pretty fast. I think it is a very good piece of business and of course he really wants to play for Arsenal!

  • shariq

    and one thing more i want to say about wenger…..you people think he is not good enough for this job just because HE IS FRENCH and not enlish….and even those who think that he is the best available manager for arsenal are also wrong….comeon he is the manager of the decade and the reason is that it was based on points system which means statistically he is the best, better than murihno and ferguson though these ten years were their best and wnegers worst….so in worst form he is better than them all….just think how wenger at his best will be…..
    just you need to believe like liverpool previous year were playing as if going to get relegated but the supporters were with them and didnt booed them thats why they are back in top fight
    about arsenal i want to say one thing and thats that previous year we had four teams to qualify for europe (obviously) and so we will have four teams this year and not more than that…..and arsenal is certainly one of them even had there been no signings…and alot of people saying that may be loverpool and/or spurs make it into top four, so i agree, yes one or two teams are going out of the top four but arsenal is not the one it may be city, it may bee united it may be chelsea but not arsenal……..

  • Tolfa

    Metersacker is a very gud CB dat we can trust. I hav watched him play b4.

  • Ayomisrael

    To whom that cares, (central)defenders gets better with age but we will always see exceptions, talk of squillaci, the issue here is; Per should be ready for a new and different challenge because this is Barclay Premier League!

  • walter

    I have the opportunity to look at the Bundesliga as I have 2 or 3 games available at my sporting channel. So I do have seen a few games of the Bundesliga.
    And those saying that the pace in the EPL is much higher…. I doubt it. German reporters sometimes use the phrase “offener schlagabtausch” And this is a phrase they use when the game just keeps on rolling from one goal to the other goal and back to the other goal…. An amazing thing to watch at times. And all this can go on for a while in the games.

    Also the German national team has had to cope with all sorts of different types of teams. And most of the time the German team plays a possession game against a more defensive orientated team. I do have had the impression the Germans play a rather high line when they attack.

    And apparantly if the rumours are correct (from the mother of Vermaelen herself…) Vermaelen will not be fit in time to face Swansea next weekend because of his ankle injury. That was the last thing she heard from Thomas.

    So we will be seeing a Mertesacker-Koscielny partnership I guess.

  • Arsenal1Again

    Ipswich almost did what you say was imposible for QPR. They came up to the premiership and in their first season missed out on Champions League by 3 points. They were 7 wins out from winning the league. A penalty decision could have facilitated those wins, as could an injury crisis at opponent teams.

    Mertesacker is truly a great defender when the defence is kept tight as in the German National side. Mertesacker though is not the fastest of players despite his long legs and he will struggle getting back from the high line which Arsenal plays. Arsene will have to drastically change tactics to accomodate Mertesacker.

    I used to get mad with Gallas for not being in the defence when we conceded because he was supporting th midfield and wasn’t quick enough to get back … AND HE WAS FAST. Mertesacker can not possibly play the high line which the team has been doing. This I swear is a fact.

    It’s also a concern because my faith in Wenger’s tactical prowess is not what it once was after seeing Eboue on the right flank in the CL QF at Anfield instead of covering for Sagna at Right Back – while Walcott was on the bench. You saw what madness ensued.

  • MK

    Mertesacker won’t push up like gallas did (except for set pieces), he will sit back and command the defence.. and we have plenty of fast defenders to cover for any lack of speed he may have.

    An intelligent centre back can make up for a lack of pace with good positioning and reading the play, I think that he will be great for us as his aerial ability will significantly reduce the number of goals scored against us in set plays and now we have two intelligent and commanding centre backs so we won’t be caught out whenever TV is injured.

  • para

    It does not really matter who we sign if AFC does not change tactics and become a more rounded team, instead of being one-dimensional, using the complete squad to be able to challenge.
    A form of loose rotation is needed to let players get game time and improve relations with one another, to avoid injuries caused by the loss of form of a tired player, and to be able to have different strategies able to change a game when needed.
    This is what i hope to see in next future of AFC, becoming a more complete team, rather than just a first squad and a second squad who is only used when injuries plague.
    Onward AFC.

  • Oneniltothearsenal

    Should be interesting to see how the referees react to him, could also be a good indicator of whether or not arsenal get carded more easily. But your already on top of this ;). Best thing about him though is that he’s a gooner, all 6ft6 of him

  • Abhishek Kumar

    Hey Walter

    Sorry I am a bit off topic but I would love to show you the response to the article in daily mail. Dan Kelly spewed so much venom that all he got was negative comments. I was one of the commentator. And all those who did not want to comment just liked the comments. (I got the highest thums up YAYAYAAY)

    And the few comments in favour have received huge thumbs down. So i may assume that negative vibes is not so welcome these days.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-2033215/Des-Kelly-Arsenal-miss-point-D-Day.html

  • jayj

    You gotta love the media!
    English spine, mantality and Strenght.

    English Spine – The same spine that crumbles come a major tournament!
    English Mantality – Lose when counts the most with a pint of larger!
    English Strenght – Well that with gloriy days of the empire and never recovered much like 1966!

    One player that speaks volumes come all things English, look no further than ex Baldy Rooney. Never does so much credit be besiged upon the most vile and destructive scumbag.

  • Arsenal1Again

    @MK

    I’ve taken on board what you say about Mertesacker not pushing up like Gallas did, but after giving some thought to what you’ve said for a couple of hours now, something is bother me. Mertesacker can’t stay back and command the defence when the defensive line is high. For that defensive line to be high, all the defenders have to be up on that line. There can be no offside trap high up the pitch if Mertesacker is hanging about in our area. In fact just two players would need to charge at him to guarantee a one-on-one with our keeper. With the very high line we play, often in the oppositons half, a team counter-attacking us will require a 50 yard sprint for Mertesacker a dozen times per game.

  • Rog B

    So he does’nt have pace? I do not recall Cambell,Adams,Vidic,Terry etc having pace either but what they have/had is good organisational skills. Playing up high as we do,who better to martial our offside trap then than someone of his pedigree? We have been crying out for a big intelligent/comanding centre back for years,now we have signed one I can’t see why people are doubting it. Even before we signed him the evidence was plain to see against Udinese that we have reverted our style of play back to a more direct counter attack game. Can I just remind everyone that we have lost one class player and one big pr@ck and a style of play that won us nothing. Hence the signings of Areta who will play more direct,gervinho who already reminds me of TT and Mertesacker who is a defender like Cambell was, he lacked pace aswell but made up for it with other qualities. I’m glad Cesc and that other pr@ck have gone. New blood with passion and something to prove,its about time

  • Rog B

    Also to add I don’t think that it was our lack of signings the past few years that has cost us, I think its our style of play over the last few years,its too european and is great for beating the likes of barca but it just doesn’t work in the prem

  • Mahesh

    @Walter,
    I also get to watch a few Bundesliga games here in India. And those games are really fast paced! From what I have seen, most of the games are played with same (or even higher) pace than EPL. The physicality is a bit less probably – so you won’t see too many lunging tackles for half chances. They style of play very much reflects the German efficiency i.e. is very similar to how German national teams play – with one touch passing and all. I believe that EPL being played at highest speed is kind of a myth that Barclays are promoting as a brand attribute. Apart from top 4 EPL teams, I generally find Bundesliga more appealing. Just my thoughts, not saying that Bundesliga is better that EPL or anything like that 🙂

  • nicktolhurst

    As I live in Germany Ive been watching Per for the best of the decade and I have to say while im not familiar with Park, that while Santos is great going forward but less so defending and while Arteta and Yossi have both had serious injuries and may be past their best – Per is absolutely top drawer in so many way ways. One thing Walter forgot I think to mention is Per’s scoring rate better than many midfileders. Hes an giant at corners and is calm and collected. The only possible disadvantage is that hes not the fastest CB out there in the PL – but considering his talent, experience, size, age, temprement the price is an absoluute steal – im very surprised other clubs didnt come in for him, so much so that I suspect Per had his heart set on Arsenal and was just waiting for the CL qualification to come through.

    In fact with Per in, this should allow more room for Santos more attacking capabilities so Im quite positive about the new look defence.

  • walter

    Nick,
    I did mention it but didn’t want to focus on it. But giving his record so far it wouldn’t surprise me to have him on the score sheet some 3 or 4 time for Arsenal this season. Which would be a great return for a “slow” central defender 😉
    Now I do admit I didn’t see all of Werder Bremen their games but whenever I saw them play Mertesackter was a gigantic defender.

    But on the other hand maybe we could say that he is rubbish and so on. So he can only be a bit of a surprise like Thomas Vermaelen was when he came to us. Remember how he was written off by some part of the fans even before one ball was kicked?

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    I saw Mertesacker play in Stuttgart and Cologne and on German TV over a 2 year period and while it is true that he is not the fastest CB, he is an extremely intelligent and positionally superior defender. He can play a high line, as he does that with Germany but he is always supported by very fast fullbacks and another CB who is fast as well. We have Sagna and Santos, both of whom are very fast and either Kos or the Verminator are equally speedy so no worries there.
    Playing in the Bundesliga, which is a pacey League but less physical than the EPL and where the officials are more numerous and better prepared than the EPL, proved that he is capable of being a winner despite Werder Bremen’s 13th place finish last season. I am sure he’ll adapt to the EPL but I am also fearful that the officials will target him, like they do most of Arsenal’s players.

  • WalterBroeckx

    off topic but apparently Gervinho also scored for his country today. Our strikers are getting warmed up it seems

  • CaveGun

    Lets all be reminded that not many gave Vermalaen a chance when he first joined and now we are all singing his praise. We Gooners must understand players acquired by the club are not hand picked off the shelf or sold to us by the media. Wenger watched Cesc 44 times, by record, before picking him from La Masia. Interestingly he hadnt turned 16 at the time. I’m pretty sure Per and all other signings would have been watched the same way, panic buying or not. Wenger insisted on buying players better than what we had before transfer deadline. So are any of these buys worse off than any of our players? Can i see any hands? Lets give these players an opportunity to play (and i mean a no. of games) before we begin to dissect them like a science lab project. Per’s stats for a defender are pretty astounding and i am confident he’s already an excellent addition to the team.

  • bob

    Mahesh,
    Great posting on the high-speed game not being the exclusive province of the Barclay’s EPL brand game. If Bundesliga is fast paced, then Per’s media-alleged too-slow for the EPL mantra will happily fly back and smear the eye glasses of the lens crafters who continue to wish and act to take down Arsene/Arsenal.

  • bob

    Walter,
    Sections of UK media are already poisoning the waters for Per’s arrival. I think (hypothesize) that with JANUARY in mind, there is a fear that Arsenal will hold serve or perhaps flourish and that we STILL have cash-on-hand if the Board or SS or takeover snipers get out of the way which, in turn, could be splashed or spread for one or two more difference-makers. If the new signings gel, and we become formidable, then a January move by AFC could still throw a major roadblock to the Rednose XX, and wouldn’t that ruined their pre-planned party and parade and the rest of the coronation and lordships that are in the pipeline. Arsenal threatens to rain on this parade, and the recent signings plus a January move, if/as needed, could be a huge deal at EPL and, if so, would be one major reason for the continuing onslaught by the re-grouping media orks and the AAA’s like LeGrovel who continue to keep the club’s wounds festering. I apologize for my brutal words on them, but this beautiful game is neither quite beautiful, nor hardly just a game.

  • @bob,
    There have got to be other players like Arteta out there, players good enough to get into their national team or play for a CL team but not currently doing so because of a lack of opportunity.
    Come to think of it, Llorente fits the bill, he’s good enough for the Spanish national team, he’s 6’5″, handy with the ball, Basque (like Arteta) and Bilbao aren’t exactly in the healthiest position financially.

  • Supercod

    Can any of the experts out there list the instances where they’ve actually seen Per’s lack of pace exposed..?

  • bob

    Woolwich,
    Yes, I think keeping January in play, now, like you’ve done can be a great way to regard what’s begun this x-fer season, but not yet finished. Our position in the table, state of injury, etc., would dictate the move(s), but I don’t know much in detail outside of EPL, but maybe you and others could provide some thumbnail sketches or more of some of the possible people to bring aboard or, if your saying this, people who we might have looked for instead of Arteta? Even so, the notion of quality that’s out there who would hunger for opportunities we could provide is exciting and a breath of fresh air, even as the media orks would pretend to close the walls in on us and take the Oxygen (so to speak) out of our room.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Supercod,
    now surely if someone of the pundits said it is so, then it is so. Do you dare to doubt the pundits??? Blasphemy, blasphemy… 😉

  • henry

    sorry for my grammar..our opponent usually playing long ball..most epl team playing long ball..so per strenght is his aerial prowess…

  • irf

    he scored spud twice! whats your excuse now? :)) ALL HAIL BFG