By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Per Mertesacker “gets found out” against the world’s top forwards, according to Steven Gerrard.
The Liverpool legend has claimed the Germany World Cup winner “deserves respect” for a fine career but is not convinced by the giant defender when he is confronted by elite attackers.
Mertesacker captained Arsenal to a convincing 3-0 Champions League win over Dynamo Zagreb on Tuesday to keep alive the team’s hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition.
Arsene Wenger’s side travel to Olympiakos in a fortnight’s time knowing they must either win 2-0 or secure a victory by scoring three goals.
Asked about how Wenger’s backline shapes up against Europe’s finest team, Gerrard told BT Sport Europe on Tuesday night: “He has massive belief in all his players collectively and individually. Sometimes he has too much belief in certain individuals.
“You have to show Per Mertesacker certain levels of respect. He has won the World Cup and has had a good career. But when he is playing against [Luis] Suarez and Neymar and certain guys he gets found out.”
Mertesacker, 31, briefly lost his place to Brazilian Gabriel earlier this season after a short spell out with illness but he has remained mostly a regular starter alongside Arsenal’s first-choice centre-back Laurent Koscielny.
Mertesacker has started 14 of the Gunners’ 21 matches this season, while Koscielny and Gabriel have started 16 and 9 games respectively.