Former West Ham United player Matthew Etherington has said that he is puzzled by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s decision to select Per Mertesacker, branding the German defender a liability on Twitter.
The 2014 World Cup winner has always attracted plenty of doubters, with his lack of pace fairly obvious and his apparent frailty when it comes to aerial battles despite having a clear size advantage.
Against Watford, Wenger selected his number one centre-back pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Mertesacker, and the duo helped the Gunners to a comfortable 3-0 victory. Or so it appears.
In reality, the visitors were under the cosh a little bit during the opening period and Mertesacker in particular was looking very uneasy, often relying on Koscielny to bail him out.
Writing on Twitter during the encounter, Etherington picked up on the 6ft 6inch defender’s struggles and questioned why Arsenal boss Wenger persists on playing him.
After watching that first half I still can't believe Wenger persists with Mertesacker, said it a year ago, he is a liability. #WATARS— Matthew Etherington (@mattyethers) octubre 17, 2015
|Def Duels Won||Def Duels Lost||Aerial Duels Won||Aerial Duels Lost||Fouls||Mins Played|
As per the table provided by Opta Stats, the former West Ham man may have a point as Mertesacker certainly didn’t represent the dominant centre-back he has previously been shown to be.
The former Werder Bremen centre-back struggled to get to grips with Watford’s Troy Deeney and came out second best in aerial battles with the striker, despite his clear height advantage.
Fortunately for the defender, his fellow teammates were up to the job and made some critical challenges when it looked for all the world that the Hornets would break the deadlock.
Taking to Twitter after the game, a number of Arsenal supporters were in agreement with Etherington and implored Mertesacker to show a little more consistency as he looked a very different player to the one who featured against Manchester United two weeks ago.
Mertesacker is slowly reaching the point where he becomes more shaky and less reliable, even positioning isn't the best anymore #afc— Marco Fuchs (@WanderlustMarco) October 17, 2015
Is Koscielny our only Centre back out there today? Mertesacker has been awful. #AFC— MJL (@mjl1988) October 17, 2015
Laurent Koscielny is having to defend for two people here. Mertesacker is all over the place both in the air and on the floor. #AFC— James Dodd (@JamesDoddUK) October 17, 2015
Mertesacker is a waste of space . Missing Gabriel big time #afc— Arran Farrell (@ArranAFCSTL) October 17, 2015
Incredibly poor from Mertesacker there. Christ. #afc— Tom Marshall-Bailey (@TomMarshall_B) October 17, 2015