German fans unimpressed with Arsenal's Per Mertesacker

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has been identified as the 'weak link' in the German defence.

Germany were expected to cruise past Paraguay in their midweek international friendly, but slipped to an unexpected 3-3 draw.

Paraguay are not the force of recent years, and sit bottom of the South American World Cup qualifying group, below the likes of Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela.

German newspaper Bild described the performance from a defensive point of view as 'chaos', and asked fans as to who they had the most faith in.

More than 180,000 readers responded to the survey, and Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker found himself as the least loved.

Unsurprisingly Phillip Lahm amassed the most votes, with 23 per cent, followed by Mats Hummels (20), and Jerome Boateng (17). Marcel Schmelzer received 12 per cent of the votes and Benedikt Howedes 8 per cent.

In fact Mertesacker picked up the least votes of any options - a paltry four per cent.

He was substituted at half-time against Paraguay with the score at 2-2, likely a pre-arranged decision with the Premier League to kick off this weekend.

But the poll illustrates a strength of feeling in Germany, and Mertesacker is clearly under pressure. Emerging defender Matthias Ginter, linked with Arsenal, is a solid season away from being brought in as his replacement, and he will know it.

Like all good footballers, he should thrive on it. Mertesacker will know he has to perform for Arsenal otherwise he could lose his national team place ahead of the World Cup.

So in an odd way, the criticism in Germany's biggest paper could work out to the Gunners' advantage in getting a more determined defender ready to start the next season with a point to prove.

Is Mertesacker under-appreciated? 

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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