• Premier League

Mertesacker has sorted defence out - Wenger

ESPN staff
October 21, 2011 « Kongo 'not worried by Mitrione's punching power' | Chartbeat test »

Arsene Wenger believes summer signing Per Mertesacker has had a calming effect on Arsenal's defence, which was porous in the early games of the season.

Wenger swooped for Germany international Mertesacker in the final hours of the August transfer window, having seen his side concede eight at Manchester United a couple of days beforehand.

Since then, with the exception of a 4-3 loss at Blackburn, the Gunners have looked much tighter at the back - particularly during Wednesday's crucial 1-0 Champions League victory in Marseille.

And now, ahead of this weekend's visit from Stoke, Wenger has hailed the 27-year-old centre back he captured from Werder Bremen. "I brought him here for more than this type of game [against Stoke] because I think he is a good player," Wenger said.

"He is a good organiser as well, he understands the game, he is an intelligent player. Physically he's getting sharper in every game. He had no preparation for the season, but now we look less nervous at the back, and I think he contributes to that."

The Frenchman wants to see Mertesacker offer more of a threat from dead-ball situations, however, having been unimpressed with his side's efforts in that department during midweek. "Of course I expect from him some goals from set-pieces, because in Marseille we had nine corners, they had one," he said. "Out of nine corners away from home, you expect to be a bit more dangerous."

Meanwhile, Wenger has confirmed that Carl Jenkinson will miss two weeks of action after picking up an injury against Marseille. In his absence, Laurent Koscielny or Johan Djourou will deputise at right-back.

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