Belfast Telegraph

Mertesacker enjoys hectic schedule

Defender Per Mertesacker is happy to miss out on an end-of-year "breather" as he looks to help push Arsenal back into the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

The Gunners gave their league campaign a much-needed kickstart as they thumped 10-man Blackburn 7-1 at Emirates Stadium last weekend, their first league win in 2012 which reduced the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea down to three points following the Blues' 3-3 draw with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Mertesacker, who moved from Werder Bremen on deadline day of the August transfer window, is happy to tackle the hectic schedule full-on with the Gunners set to travel to Sunderland this weekend, and told a webchat with Chinese fans: "It was my choice to go to the English league and have no winter break, no breather at the end of the year."

The 27-year-old added: "Normally in Germany you have a chance to calm down at the end of the year, maybe go on holiday.

"[Having no winter break] was very hard. We had a great time with the family here in London, but you have to deal with the situation.

"It is harder, but I really like it here. This is my new life: you get used to everything."

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger remains confident his men have the strength of character needed to finish the campaign with "exceptional consistency" and overtake the likes of Newcastle, Liverpool and Chelsea to get another crack at Champions League football.

Arsenal continue their European campaign with the first leg of their last-16 clash at AC Milan next week.

Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky feels it is all about momentum.

"We recently had an unsuccessful spell so the win over Blackburn is something we can build on," he said. "We can be happy after this game, but the most important thing is to carry a performance like that and fight for a Champions League spot."


From Belfast Telegraph