Thursday, 8 September 2011

Mertesacker "nervous" about Arsenal challenge -Italian international available on free transfer

Morning Gooners.

London Colney is going to be an interesting place to be today as the players who have been on international duty return for their first training session following the defeat at Manchester United.

For some it will be the first time they have met their new team mates. Per Mertesacker will fly in from Germany and has already said he#s nervous about the new stage in his career.

He said:

"It is exciting. It is a new phase in my life and I am really looking forward to it, but I also feel nervous.  
"It is like before the first day at school. 
"Now I have a new challenge in a new country, a new style of play and a new language and I am ready for it."
I expect Wenger will pick Mertesacker for his debut on Saturday. I think he'll drop in to the defence alongside Laurent Koscielny, with Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs either side of them.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing the German in action. There have been mixed reports about his performance for his national team in their game against Poland, but from what I understand of the game it really was a make-shift defence set up alongside him.

You don't get to play for your national team 70+ times if you're not a good player, especially in the starting line-ups for semi-finals and finals of major competitions like the European Championships and the World Cup. There are people who have watched him play who have their concerns about his pace, but if you look at the players we will play alongside him that shouldn't be a problem.

I don't remember Sol Campbell or Tony Adams being the quickest central defenders. Yet they were still exceptionally good, playing for their country as well. I want to judge him playing for Arsenal and let's give him the time and space to adapt to the English game as well. This next month is the perfect time for him to bed in alongside Andre Santos and Park Chu-Young, neither of whom have Premier League experience.

Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun should be able to hit the ground running. They are proven in this league. I'm really excited about how the manager is going to fit all these new faces into his team. My guessing is they won't all play on Saturday from the start but I'd expect them all to be in the squad and depending on how the game is going get some minutes from the bench if they don't start.

The good news is that Theo Walcott is set to be passed fit for Saturday's game. Kieran Gibbs should also return from his hamstring injury. We already know we'll be without Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby.

The manager is due to speak to the official site later and we'll no doubt get an injury update on the rest of the squad before the day is out.

And finally, even before we're a third of the way through September the Daily Mirror are linking us with a move for Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo who is out of contract at the end of the season and available on a Bosman free.

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