Per Mertesacker has refuted accusations that Arsenal’s players are too nice and that the squad lacks the belief to win the Premier League title.
Arsenal’s mentality has been criticised by plenty, including former players like Thierry Henry and Martin Keown, but Mertesacker insists there are plenty of leaders in the dressing room.
“We demand a lot from ourselves,” the German said. “We demand a lot in each and every training session and that gives us a lot. We don’t look too much around.
“We treat each other like we want to win something, so you get a lot of stick if you don’t perform, especially in training.
“We criticise each other enough in the dressing room and we demand a lot more from ourselves than just going somewhere and playing like we do not care.
“We showed up in this game and everybody noticed that we care. As long as we play like that, I’m confident. I have great belief in our group and nothing else.”
Alexis Sanchez was quoted last week as saying Arsenal “lack this hunger to believe that we can be champions”, but Mertesacker does not agree.
“For a team with low confidence and no belief we played pretty well!” said Mertesacker.
“I think we have shown great character and hopefully that gives us a lot of confidence and a lot of belief. I think we’ve shown a lot.
“With 11 men, we played really well. I think we defended well. It was a high tempo. The first 15 minutes were absolutely amazing. I have never played in such a demanding game physically.
“Mentally, it’s always tough because you could feel the pressure but the team responded well and I think it’s a good start to an interesting end of the season.
“It is how you turn up, and I think we turned up very aggressively. I think that is the biggest statement for ourselves – not for anyone else, just for ourselves.”