Backpage Roundup: Mertesacker Urges Gunners to Beat Chelsea, Wenger Has Sympathy for Benitez, Walcott Signs Da Ting, Diame Boost for Arsenal and More

Mertesacker Urges Gunners to Beat Chelsea
Per Mertesacker has urged his Arsenal teammates to prove that they deserve to be in top four by defeating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The Gunners are six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur but have a game in hand. Full three points against Chelsea will bring them very close to the Champions League positions and Mertesacker wants his side to do just that.
The German centre-half said: “Busy weeks are coming and the most important thing is to build up confidence after the defeat against Manchester City. We showed great confidence [against Swansea] right from the start.
“Last season, we showed we can win at Chelsea. When we put our opponents under pressure we are always dangerous, that must be our target at Chelsea as well. Let’s show our character and our ability.”
“If you want to be in the top four, you have to compete with Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham, those teams are in this zone, so we need to win against those four as much as we can. That is a good chance to show how good we are.”
Wenger Has Sympathy for Chelsea’s Benitez
Ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League encounter with Chelsea, coach Arsene Wenger has admitted that he has sympathy for his Blues counterpart Rafa Benitez.
The former Liverpool boss is under pressure from Chelsea fans due to his side’s poor form at Stamford Bridge, where they have failed to win any of their last three games.
Wenger revealed that he feels for Benitez, although made it clear that all the feelings of sympathy will vanish once his team takes the field to face the European champions.
I feel sympathy for every manager until the day I play against him. Then the sympathy goes and comes back after the game – not always straight after the game, sometimes it is some time later. We are all in the same position,” said the Frenchman, who himself has been on the receiving end of severe criticism for Arsenal fans in the past few years.
We know we are in a fragile job and that the confidence is very important, but it is a job where you have to take care of your own team,” he added.
Wenger Looking to Change Arsenal’s Playing Style
Arsene Wenger believes that his Arsenal charges need to show “a bit more physical and aggressive” side of their game if they are fight their way back into the top four on the league ladder.
The Gunners used to be one of the hardest sides in the Premier League during their Invincibles era with plenty of strong characters like Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Lauren, Martin Keown and Tony Adams. However, their focus then shifted to the finesse aspect of the game and therefore, they now struggle to match the aggression and intensity of sides like Chelsea and Stoke City.
Wenger feels it might be time for Arsenal to revert back to their previous style so they can be more effective on the football field.
In a recent interview, the Arsenal boss said: “Maybe we have to go back a little bit, not less technical but a bit more physical and aggressive. I think that when [referees] see Arsenal on the sheet, they say ‘oh fantastic’ [to referee them]. This side are physical players, but we have to restructure the balance of the team a little bit. The players have the character to do it. The [likes of] [Jack] Wilshere are technical players, but they are also physical players.”
Walcott Finally Signs Da Ting
Theo Walcott has finally put an end to months of speculation about his future by signing a new long-term contract with Arsenal.
The 23-year-old winger’s original deal only had a few more months on it and after several rounds of negotiations over an extension failed to deliver any results, it was thought that he was heading for the exit door.
However, earlier this month, a breakthrough was reached in negotiations and the former Southampton man has ended up re-signing with the Gunners.
Walcott, who is now tied to Arsenal until June 2016, said: “I am very happy to have signed a new contract here at Arsenal. Thanks to everyone for their continued support, especially the manager, everyone at the club and most importantly the fans. I have made it clear from the start that I wanted to stay at Arsenal so I am pleased we have agreed a deal that everyone is happy with. What’s important now is for the team to realise its potential and win trophies.”
Wenger added: “We are all delighted that Theo has signed a new contract. He joined us as a 16-year-old and since then has developed very well to become an extremely important player for both Arsenal Football Club and England.
“Theo is a strong player and also a great person, and the combination of his ability and pace always make him such a valuable asset either from the flanks or down the middle. Theo’s contract extension now gives us a strong nucleus of ambitious young players who have committed to the club and want to be successful with us as a group.”
Diame’s Hammer Talks Hit Snag  
Rumoured Arsenal target Mohamed Diame is no closer to renegotiating the terms of his contract with his current club West Ham United, the Hammers boss Sam Allardyce has confirmed.
West Ham owners have been trying to remove a £3.5million exit clause out of Diame’s contract that has made him an attractive proposition for several top clubs including Arsenal.
The Gunners haven’t exercised the 25-year-old midfielder’s clause yet but are expected to do so soon, which is why the Hammers are keen to revise the contract terms. However, Allardyce has revealed that the two parties are far from reaching an agreement, news that will provide a major boost to coach Arsene Wenger’s plans to nick Diame from the Hammers.
The owners have tried to renegotiate the contract, but they haven’t been successful at the moment,” Allardyce said.

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