Per Mertesacker believes that it is vital that Arsenal finish the season in the top four, despite Arsene Wenger’s side already having to make up a six point gap in the table after losing four of their first eight games of the season.
The Gunners have shown signs of improvement since the 8-2 defeat to Manchester United at the end of August with matches at the Emirates yielding five successive victories. However, with only one point taken away from home the prospect of a sixteenth consecutive year of Champions League football still looks far from certain.
Speaking to the Arsenal official matchday programme ahead of Sunday’s win over Sunderland, Mertesacker made clear that focus in the camp was on repeating the feats of the past:
“We have to improve. It’s vital that we reach at least the top four in the league, but at the moment we don’t have the points to speak about that.
“It’s important to perform well and make sure we move up the table. The team has to stay calm of course, but the supporters have to feel we’re giving everything to succeed.”
The German international, who has been an ever-present in the Gunners starting line-up since moving from Werder Bremen in the last days of the transfer window, also hopes he can continue his quick acclimatisation to life in England both on and off the pitch.
“I want to help the defence and if you are tall you have to give your strength to the team. It could be through headers, it could be through anything – I want to improve as a defender and acclimatise very quickly.
“In terms of working on things, of course there was no pre-season for me with the team. It all had to come together in the games themselves, so we’ve had to adapt as we go.
“Also the language and the players in this league are all different and I’m learning. My English is not quite as I’d like it yet and I’ll be having some lessons – in football and in life that will be very important.”