by Lewis Ambrose
Former Manchester United and England defender Paul Parker has oddly attacked Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker, in quotes appearing on the Daily Star website on Sunday.
The former England international played regularly for Sir Alex Ferguson during a five-year stay at Old Trafford in the early nineties and his criticism of Mertesacker is as wrong as it is confusing.
“I don’t think you can win the the title if Per Mertesacker is in your starting XI,” said Parker, who represented England 19 times during his career.
“With or without the ball, he is a liability.”
With the ball Per may look clumsy thanks to his stature, but he is actually very proficient.
Arsenal always choose to play out from the right-hand side when they can, opting to use the passing of Mertesacker rather than Laurent Koscielny. The big German is composed above all else.
Last season the centre-half completed just fewer than 90% of his passes in the Premier League with seasonal figures worse than the ones he posted in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons.
Basically, he’s very good with the ball.
Without it? Mertesacker’s anticipation is better than anyone else in the side. But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good slandering.
“Mertesacker isn’t comfortable on the ball and looks uneasy under pressure when he has to move it quickly.
“Defensively we’ve seen how many times people get in front of him at the near post; when he gets caught out he has no chance of recovery,” Parker said.
He really doesn’t – that much is true. It is, however, fortunate that he very rarely gets caught out.
There’s no doubt that Mertesacker isn’t fast but he quite obviously sees the game happening far quicker than those around him, and that’s a gift.
“You are asking a lot, for a team who wants to have a lot of possession, to have to rely on someone who doesn’t have a lot of pace. His positional sense is quite poor as well.”
Well, I’m baffled.
Parker went on to talk about Koscielny – with six bookings in his last 84 Premier League games – is booked too often for rash challenges.
I don’t think there is much point wasting more time on his quotes.
With all due respect, Paul Parker, you are either clueless or are looking to rile a few Arsenal fans.
If you just want people to be talking about you there is plenty of ammunition that could be thrown at Chris Smalling, Phil Jones or Jonny Evans of a club that you actually played for.
Arsenal are – defensively and in possession – much better with Per Mertesacker than without him.