Wenger hails Mertesacker impact

Arsenal have been beset by defensive problems for what seems like

an eternity now and their latest centre-half signing, Mertesacker,

has already come in for heavy criticism. Wenger, however, insists

Mertesacker has the ability to organise and be the on-field leader

Arsenal have missed since Patrick Vieira left the club. He has also

pointed out that he has put together a successful defence before –

and he is confident Mertesacker can be a big part of a new solid

backline. Wenger said: “I inherited a fantastic defence (in 1996)

but that was not the unbeatable team, that was not the best team.

The defence with Lauren, Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure and Ashley Cole

was the unbeatable team. “I think Mertesacker can be a talker.

Trust the Germans, he is a fighter. I am happy with what I see from

him. Many times people judge you quickly. I am happy with the buys

we made. I am not happy with the results, that is completely

different.” In fact, Wenger was happy to compare Mertesacker’s

potential influence with an Arsenal legend in Adams. Wenger said:

“He is a little bit like that (Adams). Not the quickest but he uses

his brain well. Mertesacker is getting stronger in every single

game. He is getting more aggressive. I like him personally. He’s a

very intelligent player and will be a big asset for us.” While

Arsenal have taken just seven points from seven matches in the

league so far this season, Wenger is convinced a top four finish is

still realistic. “It is important for us to be consistent in the

Premiership,” he said. “We are a club of a certain stature and it

is important that we do not let teams run away from us.” Arsenal

will also resume their Champions League campaign on Wednesday when

they travel to Marseille. Their form in Europe so far has been

good, negotiating that qualifying tie against Udinese and drawing

against Borussia Dortmund and beating Olympiakos in the group

stage. Marseille, however, top the group after two wins and Wenger

said: “Marseille have potential and a good midfield. They are a

good team (beat Dortmund 3-0). “Marseille can be dangerous because

they are good at counter-attack and I think at home they will try

to play like that against us. “The two games against Marseille will

decide our qualification. If we take four points we will qualify,

it is as simple as that.”