Arsenal new boys eye strong debuts
Per Mertesacker hopes he can cement a place in Arsenal folklore like "legend" Tony Adams as the big German centre-back prepares to make his debut against Swansea.
With Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen unavailable after needing minor surgery on a niggling ankle problem suffered in the UEFA Champions League play-off win over Udinese, Mertesacker is in line to take his slot in the Arsenal rearguard following an £8 million move from Werder Bremen.
The 26-year-old jumped at the chance to join the English club he followed as a youngster, and believes there is no better role model than the former Gunners skipper - who led the club to four league titles and won the double twice under Arsene Wenger.
"We didn't get many pictures of him on the television, but Adams was a legend here. He is a special one for me," Mertesacker told Arsenal's website. "When I was looking at English football I always looked to Arsenal and he was one of the great defenders when I was 10 or 12-years-old.
"I like the players (like Adams) very much - I have enjoyed seeing them over the years. I hope I can improve my performances here and get better and better. I want to be useful for the team."
The Gunners will be looking to kick-start their Premier League campaign with a first domestic victory in what has been a nightmare opening to the season, most notably after a 8-2 thrashing by Manchester United before the international break.
However, Wenger has moved to strengthen the squad with the deadline transfers of Korea Republic forward Park Chu Young, defenders Mertesacker and Andre Santos as well as late swoops for midfielder pair Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta. Emmanuel Frimpong will return from his suspension, but Alex Song and Gervinho must serve the final match of their three-game bans picked up on the opening day at Newcastle United.
With fitness doubts over both Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky from international action, and with Jack Wilshere set for an extended spell out because of an ankle problem, the new arrivals will give Wenger some much-needed options.
Park netted a hat-trick in a 6-0 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying win over Lebanon, but the former Monaco frontman accepts it will take some time to adapt to life in the English top-flight. He told Ilgan Sports: "I will try to adjust at Arsenal and work hard to play in many games as I can."
Following his deadline switch from Everton, Arteta cannot wait to get into action with his new team-mates. The arrival of the experienced Spaniard will go some way to offsetting the departures of captain Cesc Fabregas and playmaker Samir Nasri.
"It has been a bit strange having been at the same club for six or seven years, and it is a big change. Even when you just put a different kit on, but I am so excited," Arteta said. "I hope I can do my job well and if I have the chance to play, I will give everything.
"There is still a lot of work to do, but we want to start winning on Saturday and get that right. From then hopefully everything is going to be more positive."