Why We Watch: Per Mertesacker, Being There

Arsenal isn't just a soccer team, it's a philosophy in action. But Per Mertesacker, their best player, does things his own way.
Share |

There are only two places defenders can be in soccer: the right place and the wrong place. The right place is variable, elusive and hugely important: it’s where the ball is going, and the wrong place is everywhere else. This makes the defender’s task an amalgam of psychology, physics, practical economics, and biomechanics. The decision-making processes involved could occupy a significant portion of game theory literature, although it’s all incalculably more fun to watch than it would be to read about or parse or quantify. To enumerate the defender’s calculation of the “right” and the “wrong” places is to make a complicated thing infinitely more complicated, and a good deal less exciting and urgent. As observers, all we can do is have faith in the incomprehensible, or at least unpredictable. The ball will be where it will be; we can only hope that our defender of choice will be there when it arrives.

Faith has been a constant theme around Arsenal the past half-decade. This is true with the defense, and the sans-Van Persie offense, and Wenger (“In Arsène We Trust”); in all these cases, faith is the mantra of demise.  Two things Arsenal supporters have not recently enjoyed are stability and faith rewarded. Per Mertesacker, against all logic, expectation, thought and reason has brought a little bit of each to a club in desperate need of severe helpings of both. Per Mertesacker is not a savior by any stretch of the imagination; there’s nothing transcendent about his game, or anything really inspiring about it beyond its constancy. He is simply a defender who defends. Somehow, however, and pretty much always. It’s more impressive than it sounds.


The Gentle German, known mostly for non-aggressive tackles and being tall/German (hence the nickname), is 6-6, lanky, impossibly coordinated for his aforementioned height and gangliness, and is unlucky enough to be the central defender for a team that cannot score goals. The most coordinated act I have ever witnessed Per Mertesacker commit was this dancing move. Which isn’t to say he shouldn’t be infinitely proud of that bear-like arm gesture while maintaining tight control over his water bottle, but is more to say that he doesn’t so much play soccer well as much as he plays soccer at all.

Mertesacker is anathema to everything Wenger believes soccer to be, at least on a conceptual level. Wenger considers the ultimate prizes of soccer to be class, skill and beauty, which, while not the worst words I would use to describe the lurking German, certainly aren’t the first that come to mind. Of course, the number of players on the current Arsenal roster that embody those qualities is limited to one elfish Spaniard and... no one else, actually.

But of course, this is the point and the beauty and class and so on of Per. In a time in which Arsenal is in metaphorical and intermittently literal turmoil and Wenger’s just-got-sacked articles are being edited for immediate distribution should the news break, the Gentle German is perhaps the team’s most consistent performer. That statement, again, has something of a doom-harbinger vibe about it. But it’s not as bad as it looks.

Per has stopped attacks with unsettling certitude, his entire body moving towards the point of conflict, each individual motion seemingly a product of laborious thought, calculation and effort to ensure his hulking frame doesn’t collapse under the pressure of gravity. Then, at the very final possible instant, a giant seesaw of a leg flies out from the bodily contraption to—again, somehow—make contact with the ball and only the ball. He has made dozens of these important tackles—and has only one yellow card to his name—in 18 appearances for the Gunners this year. Each well-timed tackle is a phenomenon of nature, a manifestation of all the ideal calculations mentioned above to put Per Mertesacker’s leg in the Right Place. It’s also nothing much more than the sport played properly, by someone who does not necessarily look cut out to play the sport.

This is Per’s style, the accidental phenomenon that is somehow the most reliable aspect of the entire team. save for the metaphysical certainty that Gervinho will fake left, go right, fall down, lose possession, and sadly fail to disappear into another dimension. When Per first joined the squad, some wondered how his lack of pace, simplistic passing (think tapping the A button in FIFA) and general lack of dazzling talent—especially when juxtaposed with the Premier League’s immense competition—would be incorporated on a team made famous by and for its fluidity, creativity and athletic brilliance.  Oh, how naïve we were. For in the end, it is Per who has retained his style, while the rest of the squad has withered into incompetent dribbling, heavy first touches, and range befitting of the less mobile of the Presidents Roosevelt.

At what point does Per Mertesacker’s style become Arsenal’s dominant one? How much clumsiness in the final third do we have to witness before Mertesacker’s gentle genius becomes the definitive style for the rest of the team, the method they try and emulate? When will Arsenal shake off Wenger’s noble and unfulfilled truths and become fully Per’s?

Eh, it won’t. Per Mert’s style is as conscious as Gervinho’s head is stylish. It’s not an ethos or even a choice; it’s the only way he can get by in the most arduous soccer league in the world, where he must square up against some of the most skilled attackers the world has ever known. By Per’s own admission, he needed time to adjust to the EPL’s demands; he is still adjusting.

Even still, every tackle Mert makes is in pure desperation, but a calculated one at that. Regardless of how it looks, he’s just trying to be in the right place, which is after all his job. So perhaps, in that, there is something for Arsenal—and Wenger in particular—to learn from Per Mert; namely, that the Premier League is no longer a place for style points. If anything, it’s that at Arsenal, Per Mert has found the right place. So until Gervinho’s head can be used to actually score goals instead of avoid them, or until the ghosts of Van Persie are featured and expelled on a particularly morbid episode of Ghost Hunters, In Per We Trust.  Arsenal fans have no choice, really. But, through his steady insistence on being his big old self in exactly the spot he’s supposed to be, Per has given us no reason not to trust in him.

Share |


the long range interpersonal communication destinations like Face Book, Instagram free instagram followers | instagram likes

This is my first time visit here. From the huge amounts of remarks on your articles,I surmise I am not just one having all the pleasure right here! amazing selling machine

This is exceptionally elegantly composed and your focuses are very much communicated. Kindly, absolutely never quit composing. virus remover

Its an incredible joy perusing your post.Its brimming with data I am searching for and I want to post a remark that "The substance of your post is marvelous" Great work. Resin Driveways

Your first-class knowledge about this good post can become a proper basis for such people.. loftplan

Really appreciated the information provided. Thanks for sharing! satta matka

Much obliged to you for the upgrade, exceptionally pleasant site.. tattoo supply

This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post! Dofollow Blog Comments

I needed to go demonstrat to it to my companion and he ejoyed it also! Roof Repair Colorado Springs

simple to peruse. You have some genuine written work ability. Much thanks to you Towing Colorado Springs

I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site. Commercial Paving Colorado Springs

Wonderful, just what a blog it is! This blog has provided the helpful data to us continue the good work. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. 100% Manually, So your site is safe you can get all HQ links, that definitely increase your SERPs. 20 High Quality Backlinks gig Only for fiverr members just for 5$ WOww...high trust flow backlinks

The data you have posted is extremely helpful. The destinations you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing... werbegeschenke weihnachten

seo I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good. visit this site hurry up waiting your order low obl unique domain Thanks alot! dofollow blog comments

This online journal is so decent to me. I will continue coming here over and over. Visit my connection also.. escort lebanon

Though the site is now dormant, the three statistically inclined baseball fans who wrote the majority of the posts are all now writers for NBC's Parks and Recreation. I took a trip to the offices of that show, where Dave King ("dak"), Alan Yang ("Junior"), and Mike Schur ("Ken Tremendous") filled me in on how FJM became an unexpected hit.escorts lebanon

I must say that I truly staggered at how hugely you've made this post. I wasn't expecting that you ought to pass on such an awesome sum in one day. read the full info here

The schedule keeps changing, and with the rain, we believe it’s been put off even more. So we don’t want to promise you anything.”investigator fees

I admire what you have done here. I like the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that this is working for you as well. http://bandarjudipialaeropa.com/sbobet

An obligation of appreciation is all together to offer the such information to us. Money

Thank you for another essential article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a complete way of writing http://www.bandarjudipialaeropa.com

If truth be told informative and valuable detail is here.push button influence bonus

Nobody can reject the info you have given in the blogs, this is actually a great work.http://inboxblueprint20.com/

I may need to thank you for the endeavors you have made in making this article. I am trusting the same best work from you later on also. Fascinating post. free instagram followers | instagram likes

You raised a couple of things that I will remember for a wide time portion to come. I expect taking a gander at your next steady work. https://twitter.com/casonadetita/status/716879718063026176

would you not mind updating your blog with some more additional Useful information. . delhi jaipur taxi

Hello. I am well into a boring Sunday thanks for giving something to think about. This is a great story got me thinking, Thanks!.

Kik for PC

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics , http://www.thecalicowall.com/

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics , http://www.citistudentloans.org

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post . bike transport pune

An obligation of appreciation is all together to offer the such information to us. Acheter Meilleur Disque dur externe 2 To

Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. Its a great pleasure reading your post.Its full of information judi-sbobet

You share tons of interesting info, neat and excellent design you’ve got here. It’s certainly one of the most informative stuff on this topic I’ve ever read.. forex trading system

Freezing spotted utilising reveal the application repeatedly. Indicate any Need be to establish confidence because of forthcoming future you may be when considering demonstrating to it super create. day trade alerts

I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business site officiel

I read your blogs regularly. Your humoristic way is amusing, continue the good work!club flyer

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post . http://losangelesduidefenselawyer.com/

The gorgeous post learned a great deal Thanks greatly!life insance quote

Hi I was searching for the blogs for many times, now I have reached at the right place.payday loan virginia

He is simply a defender who defends. Somehow, however, and pretty much always. It’s more impressive than it sounds.cccam server

If you set out to make me think today; mission accomplished! I really like your writing style and how you express your ideas. Thank you.Taruhan Bola

I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back very soon. I want to encourage you to definitely acontinue your great job, have a nice weekend...

web site

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.Trust Flow Blog comments

Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites! Thanks for sharing. Great websites!project supremacy

I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post. http://www.usersbobet.com/

please join over 75,000 people who receive exclusive weekly online business and blogging tips, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, eBooks the Smart Way! Click on the green button below!..ielts task 2

please join over 75,000 people who receive exclusive weekly online business and blogging tips, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, eBooks the Smart Way! Click on the green button below!... app empire

I would love if you took a minute to leave a quick rating and review of the podcast on iTunes by clicking on the link below! It would be extremely helpful for the show and I’m aiming for 1000 5-star ratings before the end of the year! We are currently at 922 5-star ratings – you are amazing,..web marketing services

What are you doing?” with a look of wide-eyed surprise on his face, as though he couldn’t believe any answer he might give. Two years ago, that question might’ve been phrased more cynically and self-deprecatingly; Murray might have dropped the match altogether. This time, he was just being honest
mobile optin

It was a wonderful chance to visit this kind of site and I am happy to know. thank you so much for giving us a chance to have this opportunity.... Car Show reader Boards