Sanchez Must Be Left Alone To Decide Future, Says Mertesacker

Sunderland, ArsenalArsenal captain, Per Mertesacker, has said Alexis Sanchez should be left alone to decide his future, as speculation continues to swirl about the Chilean’s plans.

“He needs a break now,” Mertesacker told reporters during the club’s pre-season tour. “He needs to relax. He has done a lot for us.

Sanchez, who was the Gunners top scorer last season with 24 league goals in 38 matches, said on Saturday he wants to play Champions League football next season, offering his strongest hint yet that he would like to leave Arsenal.

The Chilean played almost every game last season and then the Confederations Cup. “You need to leave him alone to make up his mind what he wants to do. It’s his decision. If he feels good, comfortable, he can play with freedom.” Mertesacker said.

Read Also: I Want To Play Champions League Football, Says Sanchez

Mertesacker To Become Arsenal Academy Manager

ArsenalArsenal has announced Per Mertesacker is to retire at the end of the season and take charge of the club’s academy.

Mertesacker missed the majority of last season with a serious knee injury, making only two appearances.

Having returned to full fitness, the 32-year-old will remain part of Arsene Wenger’s squad for 2017/18 and see out the final year of his playing contract before starting his new role.

The World Cup-winning German defender has made 210 appearances for Arsenal since arriving from Werder Bremen in 2011.

Read Also: Ozil Ready To Link Up With Lacazette

Mertesacker, Coquelin Believe Retaining FA Cup Will Be Tough For Arsenal

FA CupArsenal Captain, Per Mertesacker, says the squad is approaching Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Reading with vivid memories of last year’s tough semifinal against Wigan Athletic.

Mertesacker said that the Gunners have learnt lessons from their exit from the UEFA Champions League and cannot afford to make mistakes

The German defender believes the game will be tough but expects his team to win the encounter.

“It is going to be their biggest game of the season so to mentally prepare that is going to be difficult, not just to match their physicality and mental strength but to do more, to be on the ball from the start,” Mertesacker said.

“[We need] to show them respect but no fear for the pressure. The winning streak helps us a bit but this competition is completely different.

“It is the best competition I have ever played in because so many big teams struggle. But I don’t want to struggle.

“I want to repeat the success. That is my real target so let’s make sure that we are on the same level and do more than our opponent.

“The mental side of that [Wigan] game was really tough and we need to repeat that to show that we’re good enough and mentally good enough to repeat that.

“On the football side we’re good enough but sometimes you need to put in some different qualities nobody expects from you.

“We had some different games when you think of Manchester City away – nobody expected us to play like that, focusing on our own defence and then getting them on the break. That was something new for us as a team.

“We need a special performance on Saturday as well to release that pressure.”

The Gunners have won 16 of their past 18 matches and are heavy favourites to progress against Championship side Reading.

However, Francis Coquelin – who played against the Royals earlier this season while on loan at Charlton – says they will have to make a fast start to the match.

“You know the FA Cup, you don’t know what to expect – any team is ready for it and it is always a tough game at any stage,” he told Arsenal Player.

“A semi-final at Wembley will be even tougher. We need to be ready and start on the front foot. Hopefully we can do that and win the game.

“I remember a tough game [against them for Charlton]. We won 1-0, but to be honest I don’t think we really deserved it.

“They put a lot of pressure on us, they have Pogrebnyak up front who is a big threat, and on the wings they have great players as well. We know it will be a tough game, it is a semi-final and the league you play in doesn’t matter.

“Whether you are in the Championship or the Premier League, in a game like this the team who puts the most pressure on and creates the most chances will win. If everyone is focused, we know we can get a good result.”

Everton Defeat Was An Off Day – Wenger

WengerArsène Wenger admits Arsenal’s last season’s 3-0 defeat to Everton was a low point, but says it was no more than an “off day” during a dramatic season.

The Gunners hopes of securing a top-four place looked in serious danger after the defeat at Goodison Park, with the hosts moving above them in the table.

However, a late resurgence helped Wenger’s side secure a Champions League spot at the expense of Saturday’s opponents.

Wenger told Arsenal.com, “In the quality of our performance, and even more than that in our mental resistance, the mental steel on the day [the defeat to Everton] was one of our low points.

“At the start I played with Arteta and Flamini in the middle of the park. We did not have Ozil, we had Ramsey on the bench, just coming back from injury. We played with Podolski, Giroud, and we were a bit bullied. At the back we had Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal and Sagna. It was an off day, as well physically.

“[I was worried afterwards] because it was not in our hands anymore. It was in the hands of Everton. It was only their defeat against Crystal Palace at home that allowed us to get there.

“It was very tight last year. We finished with 79 points and I think it’s the first time since I arrived in England that you finish fourth with 79 points. You can look at the tables – that never existed before.

“Even if the Premier League was more interesting than ever last season, the top four teams took more points together than in any other year. For Everton, it’s the first time a team on 72 points didn’t get in the top four. It was very difficult.”

Podolski can be kept quiet – Marko Marin

One of new Chelsea signings for the 2012/2013 season Marko Marin boasted that Chelsea will have no problem keeping his German rival Lukas Podolski under control as both clubs will be meeting for a London Derby.

Podolski who has been in a tremendous form will be a huge threat to the Blues’ hopes of winning Saturday’s London ­derby against Arsenal.

After a slow start, Podolski has bagged three goals in his last four Gunners games.

Attacking midfielder Marin, 23, said: “At the beginning it was a bit new for him, but now he is doing very well.“He has scored a few goals and he is playing well.

“Will Lukas be a threat? I think we have a very good ­defence. Our right-back Branislav Ivanovic will do very well.“It will be very hard for Lukas to play against him. I am not sure that Arsenal has played against a good team like us.

“I am confident that we can keep Podolski quiet.“There are two German players that we will be playing against, with Per Mertesacker also playing for Arsenal.

“I have not spoken to Lukas. We know each other from the national team, of course, but we are not really friends. “I hope I’m in the team, but the important thing is that we win and keep our position in the Premier League.”

Marin finally made his Blues debut in the 6-0 Capital One Cup rout of Wolves after missing the start of the season with a ­hamstring injury.He said: “I did it in a training session, but I feel good now and I can forget all that and look to the future.

“I just want to play for as long as possible, for as many games as I can. I am nearly 100 per cent fit again, so I hope to play.” Meanwhile, full-back Ryan Bertrand aims to build on his success after scoring in Tuesday night’s romp.

The 23-year-old has played a part in all but two games this season and forced his way into the England reckoning.

He said: “The year just keeps getting better for me so as long as I can keep it going, I should be able to do good things.

“We want to keep it going and hopefully repeat the success we had last year.”