by Nia Griffiths
Sunday’s Community Shield match against Chelsea will be a huge test ahead of the new season and Per Mertesacker can’t wait for the challenge.
The BFG has revealed that he actually enjoys the pressure that surrounds these big matches… Well, I’m glad someone does. However, he did clarify that this is a different type of pressure since, although a win would be grand, it’s still technically only the Community Shield.
The centre-back then went on to highlight what a useful platform these type of matches can be for our season.
“When we’ve headed to Wembley in the past, it’s generally either been for a semi-final or a final,” the German said. “There’s always been that special tension and we could always handle that pressure. Even at 2-0 down, we always managed to deal with different situations.”
He continued, “We haven’t played Chelsea at Wembley in such a situation for a long time. They played really well last season, they were really consistent and always defended well from the front. I think if we can learn something from Chelsea, it’s to be consistent over the whole season.”
Last season we only managed to gain one point from our two fixtures against Chelsea, so to be able to potentially win this match, like we did against Manchester City last season, will give us the belief we need when heading into these pivotal ties.
On the league, the BFG reiterated Arsene Wenger’s point that consistency is key, saying, “You need to be consistent, especially in the league. In the cup, you can win it with six straight victories, which we managed to do twice.”
He added, “The hunger is still there to win a cup and to stay cup winners. The consistency over the whole season is vital. It’s what everyone wants, the players and the fans.”
The vice-captain is optimistic about the Premier League.
“I believe we have a good base, a good structure and a good balance,” he said. “We showed that in the second half of last season. We didn’t concede a lot of goals and that’s the target for the first matches, especially for the first half of the season.”
Once again, however, the topic of injuries came up. Although Mertesacker hasn’t had the worst luck when it comes to getting injured, many of our squad have.
“I think the key for our success will be not suffering too many injuries and not dropping too many points at the start of the season,” he said. “That way we can ensure that we remain competitors.”
He added finally, “The hunger to retain the shield is still there. Winning a trophy would add to the team’s confidence, especially a week before the season starts. This match shows how good, how fit the team are and it’s also a reflection of how well we’ve prepared over pre-season.”
Mertesacker, who appeared for 48 games in total, played in both Chelsea fixtures last season and will therefore looking to reap revenge upon the Blues.