Per Mertesacker says Arsenal will have to work hard to keep up with their traditional rivals next season having been lucky to finish second in the last campaign.
While the Gunners narrowly avoided the embarrassment of finishing behind Sp*rs for the first time in 21 years they know they need to improve when things get going in August if they’re to mount a serious title tilt.
Arsenal’s job looks considerably more difficult given the regime changes and big-money signings at Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea and the spending undertaken by Liverpool and champions Leicester.
Giving context to the challenge ahead, Mertesacker said, “The way last season went, we were quite lucky to finish second.
“We turned things around at the end but it was kind of a miracle we finished runners-up.
“What really disappointed us was that Leicester were able to take advantage of all the other big teams suffering and we couldn’t do the same.
“That will be a big motivation next season — to keep up with all those good teams who finished behind us.
“Of course, those big clubs will be stronger this time. That’s what I expect as they’ll start the season with a lot of new players.
“A lot of transfer business has already been done and it won’t be easy for us this time, especially with all the signings going to the other clubs.
“So we also need to be stronger and I am looking forward to seeing how well we compete for the title with not a lot of signings and a lot of young players.”
The German defender added: “Our strength is we have always been able to put all negative energy away from us.
“In the last five or six seasons, whenever the criticism came, we always bounced straight back. Even though we didn’t finish top, we always managed to get a Champions League spot.
“But, honestly, I don’t care what people say. I can’t control what people are talking about.”