Per enjoys ‘special’ debut

The Germany international made his first appearance since signing
from Werder Bremen in Saturday’s 1-0 win at home to Swansea. “I
still have goosebumps,” Mertesacker told the Bild newspaper after
the match. “We are in the motherland of football. It was something
special.” Mertesacker has also been impressed by Arsenal boss
Arsene Wenger, who has come in for criticism following the club’s
poor start to the season. “Wenger is a huge personality,” he said.
“He trusts me 100%, gave a short, clear speech. In training we
practise a short, precise passing game. That will help me improve.”
Mertesacker admitted he has to get used to a more intensive game in
the Premier League. He added: “I have sensed that everything is
five per cent more intensive, the tackles, the tempo.” The
defender’s inside knowledge of the Bundesliga will be called upon
when Arsenal travel to Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday.
And he claimed his new team should not be too encouraged by the
German champions’ poor start to the season, including a 2-1 home
defeat to newly-promoted Hertha Berlin at the weekend. “For me
Dortmund are the top favourites for the last 16 and are still a top
squad,” he added. “Despite the defeat against Hertha, they are
still a force at home.”