Per Mertesacker says victory against Chelsea in the Community Shield would be a further confidence boost for Arsenal as they look to challenge Sunday’s opponents for the Premier League title.
The Gunners have won each of their last five visits to Wembley and the German, who has scored a total of three goals in the stadium for club and country, says he’s relishing the chance to test himself under the pressure of another showpiece game.
Speaking to Arsenal.com ahead of the club’s final pre-season game the centre-back noted: “The hunger to retain the shield is still there.
“Winning a trophy would add to the team’s confidence, especially a week before the season starts. This match shows how good, how fit the team are and it’s also a reflection of how well we’ve prepared over pre-season.
“When we’ve headed to Wembley in the past, it’s generally either been for a semi-final or a final. There’s always been that special tension and we could always handle that pressure. Even at 2-0 down [against Hull in 2014], we always managed to deal with different situations.”
Last season Chelsea’s consistency proved integral to their success as they cantered to the league title off the back of a fast start. Other clubs mounted strong runs throughout the campaign but it’s the ability to ground out results week in, week out that the BFG says Arsenal must emulate.
“We haven’t played Chelsea at Wembley in such a situation for a long time. They played really well last season, they were really consistent and always defended well from the front. I think if we can learn something from Chelsea, it’s to be consistent over the whole season.
“You need to be consistent, especially in the league. In the cup, you can win it with six straight victories, which we managed to do twice. The hunger is still there to win a cup and to stay cup winners. The consistency over the whole season is vital. It’s what everyone wants, the players and the fans.
“I believe we have a good base, a good structure and a good balance. We showed that in the second half of last season. We didn’t concede a lot of goals and that’s the target for the first matches, especially for the first half of the season.
“I think the key for our success will be not suffering too many injuries and not dropping too many points at the start of the season. That way we can ensure that we remain competitors.”
Sunday also represents another chance for Arsene to finally get one over Mourinho. It’s been well documented that the Portuguese has something of a hex over us and even though its a friendly it would be nice to shift the “#narrative” before the big kick-off.
Judging by the Blues schedule, they played against Barcelona in the States two days ago and squeeze in another pre-season game with Fiorentina next week before facing Swansea in the league, it’s fair to assume they could rotate their squad heavily.