Arsenal latest: Per on collecting player fines, Wilshere guns for glory, more

Jack Wilshere

All the latest news and views from the Emirates Stadium.

Undoubtedly, the story of the day, as it has been since the weekend, is Theo Walcott's sidelining for a six month spell as he requires surgery on the anterior ligament he ruptured in his knee during the 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup.

You can read more about it here, how important Walcott is to Arsenal's points average here, how worried Tottenham Hotspur fans (yes, Spurs fans) are here and Piers Morgan's reaction on who he fancies to replace the Englishman, here.

On the club's official website, there's a large interview with cult hero Per Mertesacker, who revealed that, even though he did not know Mesut Ozil would be bought in the summer until the day the deal was confirmed, both he and Lukas Podolski long spoke positively about the club whenever the three of them were on international duty.

'We had spoken about Arsenal together before [he signed],' the defender said. 'When we were together for the national team we would speak about the team, and about London. Lukas and myself always spoke in a positive way about Arsenal, so perhaps subconsciously he had it in his mind that it was a good place to go.

'So maybe we made a little contribution there! But it was his decision, and the boss convinced him too. Mesut knew he was a long-time admirer of him; I think that’s the main part of it.'

One of Mertesacker's more bizarre, off the field roles, is that of debt collector, as he is the one to oversee the player payments of imposed fines by the upper brass.

'Germans are well known for their strictness, their honesty and being able to handle an economy! So it’s my job to collect the fines, but I have to say that we have a very good squad on that side, and I don’t have to fine a lot of players. Most of the players are on time each day - there is not one player who owes me much money at the moment!'

Mertesacker's club and country team-mate Mesut Ozil is ready for the action to return.

The former Real Madrid playmaker has a pass completion rate of 87%, a tackling success of 62%, hits a team-mate with a third of his crossing attempts, has created 45 chances, seven assists and scored four goals.

He said, as quoted by the club's official website: 'I feel comfortable here. You can see on the pitch when we play together that we have a very good understanding. The team is great and for me it’s been very easy to settle - the German players here have helped me to establish myself quicker than I perhaps would have done were they not here.

'But ultimately I feel pleased. The people are very friendly and welcoming.'

Jack Wilshere, meanwhile, believes the team's push for fourth place last season has acted as a catalyst for their collective drive… that they can challenge for targets they set themselves, but they've raised the bar this season with their push for silverware.

He is quoted by the official website of the FA: 'Something clicked towards the end of last season when we knew we had to get fourth. There were games we weren't playing well in, but we were still winning and that has carried on this season.'

He added: 'Sometimes you can't always play your best and you have to still win games - you have seen the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea do that in the past and we are doing it now. Every team is going to go through a little blip. We had ours and luckily came back strong.

'We have won a few games in a row now. We are in a good place in the league, in the next round of The FA Cup and we have a break to recover. We know what we can do. There is great character in this squad, a great team spirit. We are genuine friends off the pitch. We have a mix of cultures - German, English, Spanish - but we all get on.

'That is helping us and we are concentrating on ourselves rather than anyone else.'

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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