Per Mertesacker says Petr Cech has provided Arsenal with “that hunger we maybe need” after joining from Chelsea in the summer.
Cech was Arsenal’s only signing of the summer, and after an inauspicious start in new surroundings at the Emirates the 33-year-old goalkeeper has acquitted himself well.
The Czech Republic international kept his sixth clean sheet of the Premier League season – joint-highest alongside Joe Hart and Boaz Myhill – against Swansea at the weekend, and Mertesacker believes Cech has made a lasting impression on the squad.
“You know that if they get a really clear chance Petr can do something about it,” Mertesacker said. “He’s always someone who can save your day. That gives everyone a big lift, not only the back four. The way he is commanding and vocal makes him vital. He is one of our leaders and he deserves it.
“He has played at a high level and he is still very hungry and, no matter how successful he was at Chelsea, I think he gives our team that hunger we maybe need.
“He is an experienced player that everyone looks up to and he’s important for our structure as well.”
Arsenal are now second in the Premier League table after 11 games, behind Manchester City on goal difference alone, and while Mertesacker stopped short of announcing a long-awaited Gunners title challenge, the German said that Arsene Wenger’s side have learned their lessons from previous failures.
“We haven’t proved anything yet but what we have learned is to take it game by game,” Mertesacker said. “The last couple of years we have lost a few games here and there, especially away from home.
“But we take it really seriously because we can see there is not that much difference between the top and us. Last season I think it was 15 points at this stage and now it’s completely different.
“It gives you a reason to be as efficient as we are at the minute.”