Per Mertesacker

Deeney: Arsenal shrink when challenged, lack “cojones”

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Troy Deeney thinks, and says, what everyone else has been saying about Arsenal for a few years now — that Arsene Wenger‘s side lacks toughness and heart — only the Watford captain has done so far more bombastically and scathingly following his side’s 2-1 victory over the Gunners on Saturday.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City, Spurs win while everyone else drops points ]

Deeney, who pulled Watford back to level terms in the 71st minute on Saturday, has always been an outspoken character, but Saturday’s post-game assessment of Arsenal’s formerly great team and manager was relentless and unbridled. The 29-year-old believes it’s a bit of “cojonesquotes from the Evening Standard” which Arsenal lack, and he was more than happy to explain just why that is — :

“I’ve heard Wenger’s already blaming [the penalty] as the reason for why they lost. Well, I’m not going to be one to tell Mr. Wenger about himself, but there’s a reason that they lost and it wasn’t because of one penalty.

“I have to watch what I say, but it’s [having] a bit of cojones, is what I’ll say. Whenever I play against Arsenal, I’ll go up and think, ‘Let me whack the first one and see who wants it.’

“I came on today and jumped up with Mertesacker — I didn’t even have to jump, actually — I nodded it down, the crowd gets up, ‘Yeah, we’ve got somebody who can win it,’ and they all just backed off.

“For me as a player, I just think, ‘Happy days.’ That’s my strength — if you’re going to let me do my strength against you, you’re going to have a tough afternoon.”

Again, the above is nothing that hasn’t been said of Arsenal for years now. The difference, of course, is that now it’s a current player — one who’s just bested on them on the field of play — throwing haymakers and putting them on blast.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen, and how happy everyone appears to be to dance on their grave.

Watford 2-1 Arsenal: Cleverley seals upset in stoppage

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  • Mertesacker scores in rare start
  • Watford PK lone shot on target over 90…
  • …then Cleverley scored in stoppage
  • Watford moves fourth
  • Arsenal drops sixth

Tom Cleverley scored in stoppage time to hand Watford a surprising 2-1 win over Arsenal at Vicarage Road.

Per Mertesacker‘s first Premier League goal in 1400 days was offset when Troy Deeney converted a 72nd minute penalty to level the score.

Watford’s 15 points move it into the Top Four, while Arsenal sinks sixth.

The match was Watford’s first home match since its lone loss of the season, a 6-0 shellacking at home versus Manchester City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roberto Pereyra couldn’t turn a hard cross on goal early, and Arsenal missed a chance through Mohamed Elneny, too.

Mertesacker scored when he rose above Tom Cleverley to head home a 39th minute marker off a corner kick.

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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Watford was on the front foot to start the second half, with Richarlison and Andre Gray providing moments of quality and danger.

Petr Cech stopped a cross from reaching a leaping Abdoulaye Doucoure at the back post.

Arsenal needed to swing the game back in its direction, and substitute Mesut Ozil swept Alex Iwobi to the left post for a quality chance that Heurelho Gomes slapped just beyond the right post.

That’s when life got harder for Arsenal, with Hector Bellerin fouling Richarlison on the left of the 18. Richarlison certainly made the most of contact, and Deeney stepped up to face Cech. He scored.

That wasn’t the end of Watford’s chances, the hosts’ hitting the goal post in the final 10 minutes before a stoppage time rebound landed on the doorstep for Cleverley to hammer home.

Mertesacker to retire, manage Arsenal’s academy in 2018-19

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Per Mertesacker‘s final season as a player will be in 2017-18.

Arsenal’s club captain, 32, will call time on his playing career and move into a full-time coaching role as the manage of the Gunners’ academy.

Injured for most of last season, the German national team legend put in a stunning display in the 2016-17 FA Cup final as Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.

Now, he will have one more season leading Arsenal on the pitch before leading their youth policy off of it. He will also work closely with the academy over the next 12 months before taking up his new position.

Here’s what Arsene Wenger had to say about Mertesacker moving onto a new challenge.

“Per is an exceptional character who is a great example for young players,” Wenger said. “He is a deep thinker about the game and committed to helping players fulfill their potential. He will be an inspirational figure for everyone connected with the academy.”

As for Mertesacker, he said this was “the start of an exciting new chapter for me and I am delighted that I will be able to stay part of the Arsenal family.”

Mertesacker is a model pro who despite all of his injuries last season prepared himself mentally for a massive display in the FA Cup final. Wenger spoken glowingly of his attitude in the aftermath of that win (Mertesacker’s third FA Cup trophy as a Gunner) and has always been a huge admirer of the German World Cup winner.

In the past much has been said about past Arsenal greats such as Tony Adams, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieria not moving into more senior coaching roles under Wenger, but with Steve Bould by his side and now Mertesacker set to be around to help develop youngsters, a real culture of former pros leading the club is emerging.

Dare we say Mertesacker is being groomed to take over when Wenger steps down…

Probably not, but it’s clear he has Arsenal in his heart and vice versa with the BFG a hugely popular figure among supporters, teammates and club officials alike.

Arsenal receives boost with Mertesacker return

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The Gunners haven’t had many troubles in 2016, and the club is about to get a big lift defensively to reassure its strong form.

[ MORE: Mourinho reportedly prepared to keep Rooney ]

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker is set to make a return after suffering a knee injury during the team’s buildup to the 2016/17 season. Mertesacker hasn’t featured for the Gunners at all, but the prospects of him returning at the back certainly creates a strong option for Arsene Wenger.

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The centerback took to social media on Monday, indicating that his rehab has gone well and he is in fact ready to return to the Emirates. Arsenal faces a strong challenge on Saturday against Manchester United, and Mertesacker could feature on the backline depending on how training goes the rest of the week.

The 32-year-old has served as captain for the Gunners and will likely immediately be restored in the starting XI once Wenger sees him as fully fit.

Mertesacker joined Arsenal back in 2011 from German side Werder Bremen, and has since played over 208 matches in all competitions for the Premier League club. Arsenal currently sits in fourth place in England’s top flight on 24 points.

Werder Bremen wants Per Mertesacker to rejoin club in summer

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Per Mertesacker may seem like a lifelong Gunner, but the big German center back has spent slightly less time at Arsenal than his last stop.

Mertesacker hit the Emirates Stadium at the end of the Summer 2011 transfer window, and has made 208 appearances for Arsenal.

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Those are two fewer than the number of times he pulled on the Werder Bremen shirt, and it seems possible that number 210 could begin to rise next year.

From Sky Sports:

Officials from Bremen and Hannover, another of Mertesacker’s former club, have publicly declared an interest in bringing the centre-half back home next season.

And current Bremen skipper Clemens Fritz told Bild: “We’ve talked about it [a return to Bremen]. It would be a good thing for the club.”

Fritz, 35, joined Bremen in 2006, the same time as Mertesacker. The club had a rough year during Mertesacker’s last season, and has been a bottom-half team since he left Weserstadion.

Mertesacker says his recovery is nearly complete from a serious knee injury suffered in late July against Lens. He’ll be out-of-contract this summer, and can open discussions with a new club beginning in January.

Though the big man is often derided for his lack of speed, he’s decent in both the possession and defensive parts of the game. If his knee is fine, he’ll still have a few solid years left.