Mertesacker denies Arsenal players are too nice

Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker has refuted accusations that the Gunners lack the leaders to criticise under-performing players.

The German is adamant that the players do give each other ‘stick’ when things are going badly, despite suggestions from ex-players like Thierry Henry that the dressing-room is too nice.

“We demand a lot from ourselves. We demand a lot in each and every training session and that gives us a lot. We don’t look too much around,” said Mertesacker after Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham.

“We treat each other like we want to win something, so you get a lot of stick if you don’t perform, especially in training.

“We criticise each other enough in the dressing room and we demand a lot more from ourselves than just going somewhere and playing like we do not care.

“We showed up in this game and everybody noticed that we care. As long as we play like that, I’m confident. I have great belief in our group and nothing else.”

Even teammate Alexis Sanchez was quoted last week as saying that Arsenal lacked the ‘belief’ to win the Premier League title.

“For a team with low confidence and no belief we played pretty well!” said Mertesacker.

“I think we have shown great character and hopefully that gives us a lot of confidence and a lot of belief. I think we’ve shown a lot.

“With 11 men, we played really well. I think we defended well. It was a high tempo. The first 15 minutes were absolutely amazing. I have never played in such a demanding game physically.

“Mentally, it’s always tough because you could feel the pressure but the team responded well and I think it’s a good start to an interesting end of the season.

“It is how you turn up, and I think we turned up very aggressively. I think that is the biggest statement for ourselves – not for anyone else, just for ourselves.”