Gray sits out tour to Ireland

Per Mertesacker sees progress at Arsenal and is confident they

can end their trophy drought in 2013/14.

The Gunners finished last season with a flourish, allowing them

to secure a top-four standing and a place in the UEFA Champions


The challenge now is to build on those efforts and challenge for

major titles.

It is well-documented that Arsenal have gone eight years without

landing silverware, but Mertesacker is convinced that Arsene Wenger

is piecing together a side capable of ending that barren run.

The Germany international defender said in The Observer: “We

must be well prepared both mentally and physically to do it

straight from the off.

“It’s very hard to be consistent and that’s the main reason for

Manchester City and Manchester United being successful in the last

two years. They have shown for the whole season that they are

consistent and that will be our main focus for the next season.

“We haven’t sold any players yet so we are coming from a good

base. We’re at a good level and no-one is leaving.

“Maybe someone will come in and strengthen our squad, so it’s a

better position to be in than last summer when we lost two

important players (Robin van Persie and Alex Song).

“I would say consistency is the most important thing. If we can

do that, then we should be challenging for trophies and


Mertesacker added: “It’s a big year for us. We’ve got the World

Cup at the end of it but the focus has to be on Arsenal because we

want to win things.

“We had such a strong finish at the end of last season,

especially in the final 10 games, and that is the target for the

whole season.”

Keith Hill’s side, who are targeting a promotion push in League

Two this season, sauntered into a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from

George Donnelly and Bobby Grant before Kevin Holsgrove pulled a

goal back for the non-league Shaymen.

Dale’s pre-season programme continues at Stalybridge on Tuesday

before Blackburn visit Spotland on Saturday.

The 32-year-old striker suffered a suspected broken arm after

landing awkwardly following an aerial challenge in the second


Gray is awaiting results of X-rays, though Bantams boss Phil

Parkinson is not expecting to have him available for the trip to

Ireland next week.

Parkinson said: “Unfortunately it looks like he has broken his

arm. We won’t know for certain until we get the X-rays but it does

look that way.

“It is a blow for Andy because he has come back looking really

fit. He has worked hard on his fitness over the summer and he has

been towards the front with all the running tests. He has shown a

great attitude in training so far, so it is a blow.

“These things do happen, however, and we’ll get him back as soon

as we can.”

Bradford made light of their non-league opponents as they

triumphed 4-0 at Nethermoor Park on Saturday.