Jenko: Ozil’s pal Mertersacker is BFG of a leader for Arsenal

Carl Jenkinson

Arsenal full-back Carl Jenkinson has praised Per Mertersacker’s leadership qualities at the heart of the Gunners’ defence.

German central defender Mertersacker helped smooth the way for star signing Mesut Ozil – a close friend, international colleague and former Werder Bremen team-mate – to switch from Madrid to north London in a deadline day blockbuster of a deal.

But on the pitch Jenkinson believes Mertersacker – nicknamed BFG (Big F****** German) by Arsenal supporters – has provided a rock-like solidity to Arsene Wenger’s rearguard alongside Laurent Koscielny.

And right-back Jenkinson believes Mertersacker’s encouragement and organisational skills are of huge benefit to the Emirates outfit.

He said: “Per’s been here a while now and is very comfortable with his surroundings, he’s playing well at the moment and proving a good leader.

“It’s important that the whole back four is talking to one another – if I’d had one criticism in the past it’s that we haven’t talked enough when doing so makes everything so much easier for everyone on the pitch.

“Per has taken everything on board and is doing a lot of organising out there. It’s something we all need to do if we are to push on and keep things tight as a defensive unit.”

Wenger failed to recruit a much-needed central defender in the summer window but Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen has revealed he is close to a comeback from a back injury.

And Jenkinson says he is happy with the way the back four have coped despite being short of bodies and having to rely on Bacary Sagna in the middle on occasion.

He added: “Bacary has played there and he has proved he is exceptional so it’s not an issue.

“In the past few games we have adapted fantastically. I think we’ve adapted fantastically. I think we’ve done incredibly well – it’ll be a big boost when Thomas is fit again but everyone who has played so far has done their job and we want to keep that going.”