He might be slower than molasses in January, but he seems to make up for this through astute positioning and good timing. Here’s a quick run-down of some stats (I’d add them to the image but that would detract from its, um, “artistry”):
l 2.6 aerial duels won per game
l 1 tackle per game.
l 5.1 clearances per game.
l 0.4 times dribbled per game.
l 91.5% pass-success.
l Average pass-length: 18m.
l 3 goals scored
l 1.3 interceptions per game.
l 6.94 rating from whoscored.com.
I’ll admit that I’ve given him a hard time, such as in the Man U game when I felt he could have done more to bail out Sagna after van Persie intercepted the weak back-pass. Of course, Mertesacker’s speed will continue to be a weak-point, and one that will become more of a concern as he ages and as each season wears on and we contend (hopefully) for a variety of trophies. It was highlighted albeit not too painfully against West Brom when he felt he had to go for a tackle on Shane Long and was sent off.
Having said that, he still emerges as one of the Prem’s best center-backs but has done so in a quiet, understated way. He may not boast eye-popping numbers around tackles or interceptions, but his strength seems to lie more in awareness, positioning, leadership, and organization qualities for which no statistics are available.
Long story short, he’s been a pillar of strength in the back, and his calm-confidence (belied beautifully for the moment after his equalizer against Spurs in November) helped to settle the team on more than one occasion. Whoever else we bring in over the next few weeks, it’s well-worth celebrating a man who has meant as much to the club’s fortunes this year as Mertesacker has.
Herzlichen Glückwunsch und danke, Per, für eine tolle Saison! (with help from Google Translate, I meant to say, “congratulations and thank you, Per, for a great season!”).
Closing note: today is the last day to vote in the YAMAS13 survey, and this blog is nominated in the Best New Arsenal Blog category, competing against a number of multi-site writers. I hope you’ll take a minute to cast your ballot--it’s seven questions and won’t take more than a minute. Thanks!