Per Mertesacker admits Arsenal “looked a bit knackered” by the first half of their 1-1 draw with Tottenham, while Kieran Gibbs admits they are “struggling with options”.
The Gunners had to fight from a goal down at home to Spurs to salvage a 1-1 draw on Sunday, and with the club in the midst of their annual injury crisis – only Liverpool and Newcastle (both nine) have more players sidelined currently (seven) – Mertesacker believes Arsenal are struggling for fitness.
“It was fun to play but we all looked a bit knackered, especially in the first half and we gave absolutely everything to get a draw here and we will enjoy next weekend off, a few of us, then back to duty the next week,” said Mertesacker.
Asked if fatigue could be down to injuries, Mertesacker said: “Could be. We stayed with the same line-up as against Munich apart from Gabriel. It is very important to get players back. Over a short period you can replace a couple of players but with two games a week, and the intensity will not lessen, you need a lot of players who can replace each other and come and give energy.
“With players coming back we will gain some more energy. You could see how great it was to have Kieran Gibbs on the bench. He gave us a big lift we he came on, he was fresh and gave everyone a lift with the goal.
“That is important – it is how we beat Bayern Munich. Theo played for 75 minutes and then Olivier came on and gave us a different style and had a massive impact on the game. We need game-changers. That is why, with injuries, we suffer a bit but I’m convinced that after the international break we will have more options and therefore more confidence.”
Gibbs echoed Mertesacker’s thoughts, adding that Arsene Wenger is “struggling with options”.
“We can go into the international break and recover and get a few players fit and push on after,” he said. “In the last few games, we’ve had no midfielders. I’ve been coming on and looking across the bench, even though I’m a defender, I’m one of the more offensive players.
“He’s struggling with options at the moment, with injuries in midfield and up front. A few of the boys were tired having played midweek and last weekend. With me, it was a chance to bring on some fresh legs and do anything I could to help the boys.”