The German centre-back is not worried about his side’s chances of progression in the Champions League, but acknowledges they must put in “10 per cent more” when needed
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker wants his side to take their Champions League capitulation against Anderlecht as a “warning that everyone should raise their game”.
The Gunners were 3-0 up after an hour at home against the Belgian side on Tuesday but fell to a 3-3 draw which prompted scathing criticism from former players and boos from the home crowd.
Mertesacker acknowledges that he and his team-mates may have to put in “10 per cent more” if they are to get the results that they should.
He told the press: “That was a good warning that everyone should raise their game and give maybe 10 per cent more when it is needed.
“When we drop sometimes, everyone has to be involved to defend. You can’t afford for just five or six players to defend, or just the back four. That is what we lacked, especially in the final third, and in the last 20 minutes.
“We have to defend better as a team. We did not stop them playing and they are good at it. As you could see, even in the final third, when you do not put them under pressure, they can deliver good balls through the middle. They can cause trouble and we just left them playing so, in general, that was the problem.”
Arsenal still remain five points ahead of Anderlecht in second place in Group D, however, so Mertesacker is optimistic that their collapse will not herald an embarrassing exit from the Champions League.
“[Tuesday’s result] is a small setback for us but it is a good warning and we will bounce back quickly. We are really good at that,” he remarked. “We have shown that a couple of times.
“We still have a comfortable situation in terms of going through. We want to secure second place and we still have a big advantage after four games.”