Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker believes the Christmas schedule will be “defining weeks for the team” as the Gunners look to stay in the title race.
Ahead of Sunday’s clash at Norwich, Mertesacker says Arsenal are determined to be involved in the Premier League title race until the end as they look to bounce back from last weekend’s shock league defeat at West Brom.
The Gunners can move level on points with Man City and Leicester at the top of the table with a win at Carrow Road and Mertesacker is sure they have the right spirit in the camp to stay the distance.
“The winter period is always important to put pressure on the other teams by doing well and by getting good results,” Mertesacker told the club’s website.
“In the Champions League, we want to get through and we go to Olympiacos. In the upcoming games, we will take it really seriously and not drop points anymore.
“Top three or four is always a good position and obviously it’s tighter than last season, making it more interesting for everyone. We want to be involved until the end, that’s the target.
“We’ve improved already from last season and that’s why we are looking forward to the next couple of weeks as they are defining weeks for the team. How united can we be throughout the Premier League season and how consistent can we be?
“It’s a challenge and a good challenge so we think we are well prepared. We are very united, that is my feeling over the past couple of years.
“We always build up something and now it’s time to prove we are capable of doing something. Doing great things means winning something where you need to be consistent for more than six games.
“Every Premier League team deserves credit because they do so well. You cannot go to Norwich without purpose. We need to play serious football and attack well like we diid against Zagreb, and then we have a good chance of keeping our hopes alive for the league.”
The 31-year-old Germany international, who has been in England for four and a half years, has admitted he struggled to get focused ahead of the hectic Christmas and New Year spell. But the former Werder Bremen man claims to have got “used to it” and will fly his family over from Germany to celebrate the festive season.
“Maybe the first one or two seasons, I was mentally not well during that period and in January I suffered a lot but now it is in my blood,” said Mertesacker. “Now I like to play, you get used to it.”