Mertesacker needing 'a season' to blossom
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German defender Per Mertesacker believes he can go from strength to strength at the heart of the Arsenal backline. The 6ft 6ins centre-half has taken some time to settle since his £8m move from Werder Bremen on the final day of the summer transfer window.

However, with some 11 Premier League starts now under his belt, Mertesacker, 27, feels he is slowly becoming accustomed to the hustle and bustle of English football. "I am feeling good and I think that is the best thing. It was quite a short time for me to settle in and make the transfer happen - it was very close to the deadline so it was a tough month for me," Mertesacker told Arsenal Player.

"I think in England the best players in the world are here. They have a lot of strength, a lot of speed, it doesn't compare to the Bundesliga. The technical [ability] is similar, but the speed and the physical power is different.

"If you have no pre-season with the team then that makes it more difficult. People think it's easy to connect with your club, your team-mates, but it takes time. It's getting better and better and hopefully I can keep improving now. Let me play a season and you can get [the full picture] of my personality and my ability as a footballer."

Mertesacker has found himself with several partners at the centre of the Gunners' rearguard, which has been depleted by injuries to all four full-backs, but still seen them climb up the Premier League table. Fit-again Thomas Vermaelen moved across to left-back against Everton to cover for Andre Santos, the Brazilian set for up to three months out with ankle ligament damage, while Swiss international Johan Djourou has filled in on the right after Carl Jenkinson joined Bacary Sagna on the sidelines.

Kieran Gibbs is close to a return from his stomach problem, and could be available for the Boxing Day visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers, which would be a timely boost for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger as he plans his new year transfer strategy. Wenger admitted he could be tempted to bring in attacking cover as both Côte d'Ivoire forward Gervinho and Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh are set to be away at the African Nations Cup, with Cologne's Lukas Podolski one potential target.

When - or should that be if - all of his squad are fit, the Arsenal manager will have more than enough midfield options. Despite insisting only last week when in Athens that Tomas Rosicky would not be leaving for Olympiacos or any other destination, the Czech midfielder, who is coming towards the end of his current deal, continues to be linked with a January move away from Emirates Stadium.

Wolfsburg manager Felix Magath has confirmed they would be interested in taking the former Borussia Dortmund man back to the Bundesliga should the 31-year-old become available. Magath told German newspaper Bild: "Tomas is a good player, he is fit no question about it. Only a few years ago, all the top clubs were chasing him."