Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Mertesacker expresses loyalty to Arsenal

Central defender Per Mertesacker insists he is committed to Arsenal

German defender Per Mertesacker has rejected suggestions he was set to quit Arsenal and return to the Bundesliga in the summer.

With Gunners boss Arsene Wenger warning no one's place in the side was guaranteed after dropping captain Thomas Vermaelen and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for the Champions League game at Bayern Munich, there had been suggestion Mertesacker could find himself surplus to requirements should Arsenal recruit a new defensive line.

However, the 28-year-old - signed from Werder Bremen in August 2011 - insists he has no intentions of leaving the Emirates Stadium, and told German newspaper Sport-Bild: "A change is not an issue. Our manager Arsene Wenger gives me absolute confidence, I play every game. I can think of nothing else, but to stay at Arsenal."

Most of Arsenal's first-team squad, including England's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, are now away on international duty. Midfielder Jack Wilshere, however, will continue his rehabilitation after spending time in Dubai to aid recovery from an ankle problem which Arsenal hope will clear up for the resumption of Barclays Premier League action against Reading on March 30.

Santi Cazorla has joined up with Spain for their games against Finland and France.

The 28-year-old has enjoyed a successful first season in the Premier League following his summer move from Malaga.

Cazorla has chalked up 11 goals for the Gunners, including a hat-trick in the 5-2 league win at Reading before Christmas.

The creative midfielder hopes that tally will be extended as Arsenal look to close back in on the top four and Champions League qualification once again.

"It's an aspect of my game I've always tried to improve," said Cazorla on the club's official website, www.arsenal.com. "Last season at Malaga I hit nine and my target was to go beyond that. I think a figure of 11 goals this season is good for a midfielder, but I think I can score more and improve in that facet of the game.

"Everything influences it (the improvement in front of goal). You have to try and improve as an individual and, ultimately, if you're better, the team makes you better too. It all works in tandem and you need the two to come together, the individual and the collective."

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