Tomas Rosicky’s second minute strike earned the Gunners the lead against archrivals Tottenham at White Hart lane on Sunday but a formidable defensive display from the visitors earned the Reds the three points.
Late on in the second half as Spurs chased an elusive equaliser, manager Tim Sherwood lost his cool with Arsenal fullback Bacary Sagna who was taking his time with a throw-in.
The Tottenham coach threw the ball at the Frenchman rather than to him in an effort to speed up his taking of the throw and whilst the incident was settled quickly without action taken by referee Mike Dean, the reaction of Per Mertesacker speaks bounds about his role in the team.
The German has shown this season his leadership capabilities on numerous occasions – we have seen him pull up his teammates, such as Mesut Ozil, for not thanking the away fans, we have seen him marshal the back line repeatedly when Arsenal have been under pressure. His partnership with Laurent Koscielny has become one of the most formidable defensive units in the Premier League.
His reaction here to Sherwood’s outburst on the touchline is exactly the stuff of a skipper – he runs towards the incident with clear intension to defend and protect his teammate. His presence throughout the game was intelligent, calm, courageous and controlled; everything Arsenal fans have come to expect of the German international.
The sight of him and Koscielny throwing themselves to the ground to block a shot on their open goal when goalkeeper Wojceich Szczesny fumbled an incoming cross shows just how far the pair of them have come this season. To keep a clean sheet against Tottenham at White Hart Lane is something no team has achieved in the Premier League in 2014.
Liverpool, Newcastle and West Ham are in fact the only teams to have kept the home side out this season at White Hart Lane before Sunday in which Arsenal displayed both sides of their game via a goal that must be a goal of the season contender and a committed and valiant display at the back, led by Per Mertesacker and his French colleague.