Arsenala s Per Mertesacker said hea s impressed with the way the team has comeback in this season and the contributions made by the youngsters for the teama s cause.
a Those who came from the World Cup had no break and no pre-season, we started right in the season and [had to] try to find form,a he told Arsenal Player.
a A lot of players got injured or werena t in the best form, so it took us a while to be at our top level.
a I am delighted with how the team responded to the criticism that came our way because it is a completely new experience for a lot of players to have post-World Cup difficulties.
a But the belief and trust of the manager and the inner core of the club has been absolutely amazing. This means more to me than what happened in the first few months with the lack of form and the criticism.
a We are in a good position now [but at the start] we suffered a lot of injuries to players who were amazing last season, so we had to replace them with youngsters.
a But there was always good energy because they proved they can deliver good performances for the team and that raised everyonea s level. I am delighted with the teama s performances throughout the year.a
Particular praise should be given to Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin, who took their chances and made full use of it. While Coquelin is not exactly a youngster, he was still nowhere close to the first team and was on the verge of leaving the club. However, an emergency recall from a loan to Charlton following injuries in the midfield meant that he got an opportunity to make a name for himself. Coquelin applied himself and the effect he has had is there to see, even getting him a 4 year deal from the club.
Hector Bellerin is another player who has similarly had a wonderful impact in the team. Drafted in to replace the injured Mathieu Debuchy, he has essentially relegated the newly signed Calum Chambers to a 4th choice centre back role. His performances have been critical for Arsenal to ensure that there was some semblance of organization at the back, and to rack up some clean sheets. Bellerin has also shown to be good going forward, and in a way, has made sure that Arsenal dona t miss Bacary Sagna too much, who used to do the job to perfection.
Mertesacker would be hoping to continue the good work in defence with his teammates, and the team will need commitment even more now, as they try to make sure they finish 2nd, and even if a long shot, do whatever it takes to try and overtake Chelsea for the title.