Mertesacker: Arsenal have not been ready to fight

6 March 2017 14:16

Per Mertesacker accepts Arsenal have not been “ready for the fight” in recent matches and called the focus on Alexis Sanchez “distracting”.

The Arsenal defender acknowledged the team’s mentality in recent matches has not been acceptable after the Gunners lost four of their last six games.

They trail Bayern Munich 5-1 ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg at the Emirates Stadium.

“I think we saw on a lot of occasions we were absolutely not ready for the fight,” Mertesacker said at the pre-match media conference.

“We haven’t competed a lot in recent games and we want to turn that around.

“We want to come back to our strengths. One thing about the Liverpool game, we had 11 players on the pitch – even without our best player on the pitch – to show we are a unit.

“It is a little bit tense but that is normal. The team is eager to change something, you can feel that in every training session and I need to make sure we train at a high level and are focused on the next opponent.

“It is going to be a tough one against Bayern. We need to take the first step to get our fans on board again.”

Wenger has insisted reports of a training ground bust-up with Sanchez are false and Mertesacker stressed the attention on the Chile international was unhelpful after he was dropped against Liverpool.

“Every day we come in, he [Wenger] has a lot of options, he has 25 options now so it is very difficult to decide who is playing,” added Mertesacker.

“Everyone wants to push to get a starting spot, it is not about one single player. All these questions about one player are very distracting. We have a game on Tuesday for the team, not just one individual player.”

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