By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Per Mertesacker has insisted Arsenal will be “stronger” after the international break when their players are no longer “knackered”.
Arsene Wenger recalled three senior men for Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Tottenham but the Gunners were sluggish and pleased to escape with a point.
Mertesacker echoed his manager by saying that the club’s injury list, which still includes seven key players, has taken its toll.
“We stayed with the same line-up as against Munich apart from Gabriel and even though they [Tottenham] played on Thursday but they looked fresh in the first half and then suffered in the second,” said the defender.
“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.
“Now we can switch off a little bit and come back stronger. Obviously, 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 when he came on, he was fresh and gave everyone a lift with the goal.”
Wenger hopes to have Hector Bellerin (groin), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) back next week, and Mertesacker is convinced them can make a difference.
“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,” explained the former Germany international.
“That is important – it is how we beat Bayern Munich, Theo played for 75 minutes and then Olivier [Giroud] came on and gave us a different style and had a massive impact on the game. We need game-changers.
“That is what, with injuries, we suffer a bit by I’m convinced that after the international break we will have more options and therefore more confidence.”