Mertesacker primed for derby
Per Mertesacker is relishing the prospect of playing in his first north London derby against Tottenham.
By Soriebah Kajue
Last Updated: 30/09/11 1:48pm
Arsenal's Per Mertesacker is relishing the prospect of playing in his first north London derby against Tottenham on Sunday.
The giant defender was signed from Werder Bremen last month to add his defensive qualities to the occasionally brittle Gunners rearguard.
It will be the Germany international's first real taste of a derby fixture, as in the Bundesliga the only thing he had to compare it with was Bremen's game against Hamburg - a club 60 miles away.
Indeed, Sunday's encounter at White Hart Lane will give him an authentic taste of a derby rivalry and the importance of this fixture has not been lost on him.
"This is my first special game for Arsenal," said Mertesacker. "A lot of people have been telling me about it, how massive it is, and what a special experience it is and I am looking forward to it.
"It is an especially important game for Arsenal and for me. There is nothing similar to it in Germany.
"You cannot compare Bremen against Hamburg because they are not quite in the same city, so the London derby is bigger."
The unique demands of the English Premier League are like no other domestic competition in Europe, which usually means foreign players need time to adjust.
And so it has proved with the Germany international, who has yet to find the pinnacle of his form.
Injuries to other defenders have not aided his cause but former Arsenal stalwarts Jens Lehmann and Mikael Silvestre have been on hand to offer him counsel.
"I got some advice from Jens," added Mertesacker. "He was my goalkeeper since the 2006 World Cup.
"He gave me advice about the game in England. Living in London is very different to living in a little town in Germany. I got a lot of advice from Mikael Silvestre, who I played with last year.
"They told me the Premier League is more intense, quicker and very physical. I have had to get used to it very quickly. Hopefully I will in the next few weeks."