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.
Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv
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!