Mertesacker: We just pass until opposition scores

Matt Stead

Per Mertesacker says Arsenal “play and play and play until the opposing team scores”. Yes, yes they do.

The Gunners succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against Watford in the FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday, missing out on the opportunity to win a third consecutive trophy.

This leaves Arsenal’s season in disarray, with an eight-point gap separating them from Premier League leaders Leicester, while Arsene Wenger’s side must overcome a 2-0 deficit against Barcelona at the Nou Camp to progress in the Champions League.

Discussing the defeat to Watford, Mertesacker opted to shift the blame onto the club’s struggling strikers, not their flagging defence.

“What we do lack at the moment is we need to score at some point,” Mertesacker said. “It looks like we play, and play and play until the opposing team scores. That is something we need to work on. We had the opportunities and the possibilities when they were 2-0 up to come back and we kept going.

“You have to give credit because we kept going and created chance after chance, but at the moment we lack that killer instinct. We need to work on that if we want to be successful in the Premier League and the Champions League.

“In the box we played and always found good positions, with the man in the right position but we lacked that relaxation, even to hit the target we did not do that sometimes. We missed it too often.

“The desire to play together and to be good at a team is there, you can feel that, even if there is a bit of negativity I can understand. I want as well that we go through here, I think we had the chances and we played in the right way apart from the fact we didn’t score. That is something you need to do in football if you want to be successful. It looks like the longer the game goes, we rush and rush our decisions. It is still a learning process for us as a team.

“The season is not over. We play in a confident way, we maybe lack that bit at the end. What is really important in football, to be successful we need to score,” added Mertesacker. “We cannot afford to concede [against Barcelona]. We have to go there and try to attack, no matter what. That is the only possibility we have.

“We can be fortunate to have such a big game in front of us. I cannot predict, it is really hard. It is the ultimate team at the minute, so we are straight away under pressure and we have to go away from home.”