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.”