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We can launch a lasting league tilt, insists Per Mertesacker


Per Mertesacker

Per Mertesacker

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Per Mertesacker

Defender Per Mertesacker claims Arsenal's victory over Chelsea in the FA Community Shield at Wembley shows the squad are ready to provide the required answers to questions about their title credentials.

The Gunners maintained an impressive build-up to the new Barclays Premier League campaign with a well-organised 1-0 win against the 2014-15 champions, secured with a fine first-half strike from midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

While tougher tests await over the next nine months given Chelsea looked somewhat sluggish following their America tour and were missing main striker Diego Costa through a hamstring injury, Mertesacker is convinced Arsene Wenger's squad are now ready to mount a sustained challenge for the championship.

"We have had a great pre-season so far, and the peak was winning the Community Shield, but any significant predictions from the game is very difficult," Mertesacker said.

"It was a good test for both teams a week before the season, everyone has to adjust a bit now.

"They (Chelsea) had a great consistent season last year, we had a great run to the end of the season, and deserved to win the FA Cup. It (the league) is decided by details, and which team can maintain a good spirit, that level of focus which is vital throughout the season.

"Chelsea have shown it, and we have to step up and do more than last season, so that is the question for us.

"We asked the question to ourselves and you could see we really want to compete and make the next step."

Mertesacker believes with the addition of veteran keeper Petr Cech, signed for £10million from the Blues, Arsenal have now assembled a group of players who can last the distance.

"You can see we have a great squad, a deep squad. That means there will be some difficult questions for the manager to answer and for the team of how we can cope with the difficulties," the German centre-back added.

"There are other teams who have also brought a lot of good players in, so it is difficult to say what will happen in the title race.

"But we have good form, so whether we can keep that and start the season well is the key."

Belfast Telegraph