Mertesacker criticises Arsenal forwards for lack of effort in defence

Per Mertesacker has said the Arsenal attackers need to do more to help the team defend after the Gunners gave up a three-goal lead in the Champions League game against Anderlecht, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

The Gunners were 3-0 up against the Belgians but eventually drew 3-3, with manager Arsene Wenger heavily critical of his team’s failure to see the game out, pointing the finger at the defence for letting in three second half goals.

Mertesacker acknowledged that the team should have done better but argued there were too many players committed forward and not holding back to help stabilise the match. “Everyone has to be involved to defend,” Mertesacker said. “We cannot afford that we have just five or six players defending and just the back four.

“That’s what we lacked, especially in the final third in the last 20 minutes. We have to defend better as a team,” he continued, adding that the result means Arsenal are likely to get a difficult draw in the next round, should they qualify. “It is going to be the same things as last year and the year before where we finished second and the draw gave us Munich,” he predicted.

“That is up to us, we did that. It was due to a lack of defending. The team is very disappointed. But we are good at bouncing back very quickly after small setbacks. It’s a good warning I think. We were nearly through and then we dropped a bit. I think we need a bit of pressure to realise we are in a good position but we still face competition.

“That is something we really lacked at 3-0 up. That is something we have to get out of our minds. Everyone should raise their game and give 10 per cent more when it is really needed.”

The result leaves Arsenal second in Group D, five points behind unbeaten Borussia Dortmund, who have qualified from the group. Arsenal need to beat the Germans in the next game and hope Dortmund lose at home to Anderlecht in the final round of games, while they beat Galatasaray away from home, to be able to top the group.

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