Mertesacker enjoying life at Arsenal after overcoming ‘tough’ debut season

The Germany international endured a tricky first campaign in English football but looks to be getting to grips with the more physical style of play in the Premier League
Per Mertesacker is feeling more comfortable with life at Arsenal after overcoming a tough debut season in English football.

The 28-year-old moved to the Gunners in August 2011 from Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen and has admitted he struggled to come to terms with the more physical nature of the Premier League.

However, fresh from the scoring in Arsenal’s 5-2 win over local rivals Tottenham at the weekend, he feels he is adapting his game as he looks to prove himself at the Emirates.

Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: "It was quite tough for me [in my first season] but now I feel much more comfortable with the situation, with the season, with opponents, with our team as well, with the game we play. I try to keep on going with that feeling.

"English football is much more physical than the Bundesliga so you have to make your mind up about the tackles, about the way you cover your partner. So I set those things up a bit and I feel much better than last season.

"We try to play our game, to set the pace. The improvement has been so big, especially when you train more than one year with a team. The improvement is that big and I think you can see it. You can see those players who came in this year, they need a bit of time to settle in completely."

The Germany international made 27 starts in his first season but is on course to go past that figure this campaign, starting all but one of the Gunners' Premier League matches.

Reflecting on breaking his scoring duck for the club against their north London rivals, he said: "It was kind of a relief. For a striker I think even more, I think of Olivier Giroud. In the modern game, set-pieces are getting more important, so you try to do your best as a defender to make a difference.

"After the sending off of [Emmanuel] Adebayor we had to come quickly into the game, so it was vital to score very quickly after that to show everyone that we are still confident.

“When you miss, or you are struggling, or you make a mistake, you have to switch on quickly and do your best for the team. That shows your responsibility and respect for the team.”