Stern words helped us regain our focus, Mertesacker claims


PER Mertesacker

PER Mertesacker has revealed how clear-the-air talks helped Arsenal kick-start their Barclays Premier League campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace.

The Gunners delivered the desired response from defeat on the opening day at home against West Ham with a solid performance against the Eagles on Sunday afternoon.

After taking an early lead through Olivier Giroud’s fine acrobatic volley, Arsene Wenger’s side were pegged back by a 25-yard strike from Palace defender Joel Ward.

Arsenal weathered the storm to regroup after Palace hit the woodwork at the start of the second half and went on to restore their grip on the game when Alexis Sanchez’s header was deflected into his own net by Palace captain Damien Delaney.

Mertesacker, who again captained the side at Selhurst Park with club skipper Mikel Arteta on the bench, was heavily critical of the squad’s collective below-par performance against the Hammers.

The German centre-back admitted there had been some stern words at London Colney this week, which helped the players regain their focus, and victory lifted the mood ahead of the visit of Liverpool next Monday night. Asked if he felt there had been a need to address the team’s shortcomings directly, Mertesacker said: “Obviously when everything goes very smooth in pre-season, you avoid those talks which are sometimes very important.

That (the need for those talks) was the case last week when we came out of the (West Ham) match where no-one knew exactly what we did, so we just had to come back to our game.

You could already feel something when you are in the relegation zone (in the table), and not having (produced) in that (West Ham) game what everyone expected from you, so it was important to bounce back.

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