Belfast Telegraph

Gunners must buy smart to stay in title hunt

By Jim van Wijk

Per Mertesacker is convinced that Arsenal have a good squad, but still need to strengthen in order to last the distance as the Premier League title race hots up heading into 2014.

The Gunners moved back to the top of the table as they came from behind to win 3-1 at West Ham, where midfielder Aaron Ramsey limped off with a thigh strain which will see the Wales international miss the remaining festive fixtures.

There is little respite for Arsene Wenger's squad as they head to Newcastle tomorrow.

German international Mertesacker feels being able to call on the likes of compatriot Lukas Podolski – who scored in what was a first appearance since August – again can prove a big asset in the coming weeks, with England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also closing in on first-team contention to boost Wenger's options.

"We need the right additions," said Mertesacker.

"We said that a lot in the summer then Mesut Ozil came, but at this time, in a very special period that only happens in England, you need to get the right additions with players who come back from injury.

"We lost Aaron Ramsey (against West Ham) so a good player is maybe out for two or three weeks, so we need the right additions now.

"We have a good squad and that is going to be vital in the next couple of weeks."

For a while it looked like Arsenal might be haunted by a string of missed chances at Upton Park, where Carlton Cole put the Irons ahead at the start of the second half following a handling error from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

However, Arsenal's pressure eventually told as Theo Walcott's double turned the match around before Podolski's sweet left-foot strike made sure of victory.

Mertesacker felt the squad showed great character to come through what was a testing encounter against Sam Allardyce's relegation battlers.

"During the game we always believed in our strengths," the German international added.

"We want to go on another good run so at the minute we are really proud we are really proud that we came back against West Ham and it shows our character."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph