Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker could return to the side for Saturday’s Premier League fixture at Stamford Bridge, and Arsène Wenger has been praising his vice-captain in the build-up to the game.

The German has missed the last four Arsenal games through illness and the Gunners certainly could have done with his calming influence in Zagreb on Wednesday night.

Left behind for that game despite a return to full training, the defender is close to being ready to go even though he is lacking match fitness. Though we don’t expect him to start against Chelsea, he is in contention and the manager has been praising his attitude.

“He has a lot of class on the pitch and after the game,” Wenger said on Friday. “He is well respected, also in the dressing room, because he is always 100 per cent committed and gives everything for the team.”

It’s hardly a surprise. The German comes across as authoritative yet quiet, a superb blend that has made him an incredible defender.

Not only his he a world champion, but he captained the Arsenal side throughout last season in the absence of Mikel Arteta and has proven to be a key member of the current squad.

“Every day he works with 100 per cent commitment. They are typically German qualities but even more typically Mertesacker.”

It’s great to see him ready for a return to action, and he’ll add a much needed calming authority to the Arsenal defence.

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Whether or not he plays against Chelsea remains to be seen, but Per will be on TV on Saturday as he makes an appearance on what is essentially the German version of Match of the Day.