Arsenal FC: Per Mertesacker Transfer Just Papering over the Cracks at Arsenal

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Arsenal FC: Per Mertesacker Transfer Just Papering over the Cracks at Arsenal
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Per Mertesacker: Just Papering Over the Cracks at Arsenal

After failing to land a proven Premier League defender, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has papered over the cracks in his crumbling Gunners team by signing Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen in an £8million deal.

Reports say Mertesacker is in North London to discuss personal terms, undergo a medical and put pen to paper on a contract worth £80,000-a-week.

And while it's a move desperately needed after Arsenal's 8-2 hammering by Manchester United, Mertesacker's probable switch to the Emirates won't be enough to completely save the goal-leaking Gunners.

It is of course a good signing by Arsene Wenger, with Mertesacker a player with huge domestic and international experience.

The 26-year-old has made over 200 Bundesliga appearances in his career, and has won an incredible 75 caps for Die Mannschaft, with such wealth of experience painfully lacking in the current Arsenal defence.

His leadership will also be a huge bonus to the North London club as the Gunners have evidently lacked a true leader ever since Patrick Vieira left in 2005, with Mertesacker his club's captain.  

Along with leadership and experience, Mertesacker also brings height to his new employer's backline, standing at an imposing 6'6", as well as discipline, having only picked up one booking in 51 matches last season.

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And discipline is something Arsenal certainly need, with Gervinho, Alex Song and Emmanuel Frimpong having all cost their team dearly already this season.

The German is also a decent tackler, with Mertesacker having won 76 tackles in the 2010-11 Bundesliga campaign, with a tackle success rate of 71.1 percent.

It's an impressive tally considering the Gunners' best centre-back for tackling is Laurent Koscielny, who had only 47 tackles in the Premier League, despite be featured in more league games than Mertesacker.

Per Mertesacker is a very good defender, and his signing will appease Arsenal fans pleading with Arsene Wenger to bring in defensive reinforcements.

However, there's a reason the Gunners have only made a swoop for him now, after trying to sign the likes of Gary Cahill, Christopher Samba, Phil Jagielka, and Alex.

Whilst Mertesacker is experienced, he isn't a proven Premier League defender like the aforementioned four, with the Bundesliga a less physically demanding league than England's top-flight.

Gary Cahill has 114 Premier League appearances, while Samba has played in 145 top-flight matches, Jagielka in 153 and Alex in 85. Mertesacker has zero under his belt. The German may be proven, but he's not Premier League proven.

A Compilation of Per Mertesacker's Goals for Germany and Werder Bremen

And whilst the Werder Bremen captain is also a strong tackler, he won less tackles per game than Alex and Phil Jagielka, despite seeing enough of the ball as his side finished 13th in the German top-flight.

His team's league position is also cause for concern for Arsenal, with Bremen having slumped so low as they conceded 61 goals, the fourth highest after Cologne, Borussia Monchengladbach and St. Pauli.

None of the teams of the Gunners' previous defensive targets conceded as many goals, despite playing four more league fixtures than Werder Bremen.

And with many pundits, players, journalists and fans alike also commenting on how Arsenal have lacked an intimidation factor, Mertesacker's signing won't do anything to improve the team on that front.

A very clean defender, the centre-back only committed 18 fouls in the league last season, which shows he doesn't harm his team too much, but also proves he lacks the intimidation factor.

Cahill, Samba and Jagielka all committed more fouls than Mertesacker, and considering their teams all conceded less goals than Mertersacker's, it's clear increased aggression and intimidation in the Gunners' backline would be nothing but positive for the team, Especially after the Manchester United debacle in which Arsenal had no intimidation factor whatsoever.

So while signing Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen will plug a gap in defence, add some much needed leadership, height and overall experience to the Arsenal team, and generally provide a better option than most of the other Gunners' centre-backs, one can't help but think Arsene Wenger has merely papered over the cracks after missing out on more reliable, proven defensive options. 

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