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Per Mertesacker has lifted the lid on life at Arsenal during his playing days with the club

‘We lost 8-2 to United but nobody talked about it; papers were banned and only dull players were sent into press conferences’: Per Mertesacker lifts the lid on life under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal

  • Per Mertesacker joined Arsenal shortly after their 8-2 thrashing at Man United
  • German defender recalls a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere after the loss
  • He reveals in his new book that Arsenal players were shielded from criticism 
  • Nobody spoke about the loss and newspapers with bad write-ups were banned
  • Mertesacker says the club deliberately picked dull players to speak to the media 
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Per Mertesacker has spilled the beans on life behind the scenes at Arsenal – revealing that the club’s cosseted players don’t get any normal interaction with fans and are shielded from reading bad reviews in newspapers.

The former defender – now a coach at the Emirates – also claimed the London club deliberately pick ‘less interesting’ players for pre-match media commitments.

Mertesacker, 34, admitted he was surprised just after joining the club in 2011 that he expected to walk into a backlash from fans and the media following an 8-2 defeat to rivals Manchester United.

Per Mertesacker has lifted the lid on life at Arsenal during his playing days with the club

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Per Mertesacker has lifted the lid on life at Arsenal during his playing days with the club

The German defender arrived at the club back in 2011, shortly after an 8-2 loss to Man United

The German defender arrived at the club back in 2011, shortly after an 8-2 loss to Man United

The German defender arrived at the club back in 2011, shortly after an 8-2 loss to Man United

Mertesacker says the Gunners' 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford was not spoken about

Mertesacker says the Gunners' 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford was not spoken about

Mertesacker says the Gunners’ 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford was not spoken about

Danny Welbeck celebrates scoring United's opening goal in the 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal

Danny Welbeck celebrates scoring United's opening goal in the 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal

Danny Welbeck celebrates scoring United’s opening goal in the 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger cuts a lonely figure on the bench during the humiliation
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Gunners manager Arsene Wenger cuts a lonely figure on the bench during the humiliation

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger cuts a lonely figure on the bench during the humiliation

Instead, he found an oasis of calm because the players are sheltered from bad vibes.

He said: ‘There was no feeling of tension, let alone crisis. Any negativity was blocked out — literally — due to the fact that London Colney – Arsenal’s training ground – didn’t admit fans or members of the press.

‘There is no normal interaction between players and people in the streets, which means you’re hardly ever confronted with different perspectives, you never get to witness first-hand how much the club means to people, and only rarely do you have to speak to journalists.

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‘In the long run, preventing the public from gaining any kind of normal access to them doesn’t do players any favours. Rather, it creates a vacuum for them to float around in. Living such a cloistered life isn’t good for someone’s development.’

In his new book BFG: Big Friendly German, Mertesacker, 34, also told how players are forbidden from reading newspapers in the dressing room to protect them from ‘bad reviews’.

Mertesacker reveals that all bad vibes were blocked out at Arsenal's training ground

Mertesacker reveals that all bad vibes were blocked out at Arsenal's training ground

Mertesacker reveals that all bad vibes were blocked out at Arsenal’s training ground

The German defender pictured on the training ground with his Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

The German defender pictured on the training ground with his Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

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The German defender pictured on the training ground with his Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

The 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford was one of the low points of Arsene Wenger’s time at the club but Mertesacker remembers a ‘relaxed atmosphere’ when he arrived with the hammering not discussed at all by the players.

There was no inquest into what had gone wrong in Manchester and ‘no feeling of tension, let alone crisis.’

And he recalls being ‘baffled’ when, instead of gruelling training sessions ahead of the team’s next Premier League game at home to Swansea, ‘we ran a few laps, did a few passing exercises and went straight back to the dressing room.’

The German defender reflects on the cultural differences between Arsenal and his former clubs in Germany, Hannover and Werder Bremen.

Mertesacker pictured at the launch of his new book 'Big Friendly German' this month
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Mertesacker pictured at the launch of his new book 'Big Friendly German' this month

Mertesacker pictured at the launch of his new book ‘Big Friendly German’ this month

He admits he was surprised he wasn’t asked to speak to the media ahead of a Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund.

He said: ‘At Arsenal, things were completely different. They didn’t want everything to be focused on a single player. Instead, they preferred to send someone who might be less interesting to the media.’

Mertesacker puts the difference in approach down to the fact that English clubs do not consider ‘daily contact with supporters to be imperative’ because ticket sales and broadcasting revenue bring in more than enough money.

He also reveals that some members of the Arsenal squad sneered when they were offered yoga sessions, with Mertesacker, Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal and Tomas Rosicky usually the only ones to turn up.