Former Arsenal centre-half Per Mertesacker has revealed that the infamous 8-2 mauling at the hands of Man Utd in 2011 played a direct role in his “panic buy” transfer to the Gunners.
The 2011-12 season kicked off in disastrous fashion for Arsene Wenger’s side.
A 0-0 draw with Newcastle was followed up with a two-goal defeat to Liverpool. But what followed next would have genuine consequences.
The loss came on August 28, and according to Mertesacker, convinced Wenger that immediate reinforcements at the back were a necessity.
Mertesacker was signed three days later, and speaking on Arsenal’s Lockdown Podcast (via Goal), the current Gunners academy manager said: “I consider myself to be a panic buy. I’ve got no problems with that whatsoever because sometimes these times are rushed.
“Football is rushed, especially when the transfer window is about to close. At that time Arsenal had two or three days to make adjustments to the squad. To join my favourite English team, and to join the Premier League was something I couldn’t turn down.
“I was with the German national team during those last three days. I had to ask Joachim Low if I could go to London and have a quick medical. In my medical, I met [Andre] Santos, I became familiar with [Yossi] Benayoun, [Mikel] Arteta and Park [Chu-young] very quickly.
“It had to be messy, it had to be rushed. I didn’t care. For me, I was just happy that Arsene Wenger called me and spoke to me in German. I couldn’t really believe it.
“It was so unreal those three days, as I said. To turn down an opportunity like Arsenal Football Club? I would always do it again, in the same format, in the same rush, in the same manner.”
Arsenal did not lack accountability
A common criticism of Arsenal during Wenger’s latter years was of a lack of accountability among a perceived soft squad.
Mertesacker refuted that narrative, stating: “I remember Aaron Ramsey was always a sounding board for me because we kept having a go at each other.
“Whenever we would do something wrong or not do the right thing at a certain time in training, we would feel the accountability.
“There were no hiding places really and that’s what it’s about with winning teams. You have the odd argument and as long as you’re authentic and you can back it up with your own behaviour, then there’s no problem.
“I never had a problem when someone called me out. Sometimes it’s difficult to do that. But once you step out of your bubble and get some perspective, I think that’s just healthy.
“It can be difficult. But the real leaders are the ones who always try to be authentic and honest, no matter what that means at the time.”