Per Mertsacker: Arsenal took too long to react against Spurs

Per Mertesacker says Arsenal weren't switched on quickly enough in north London derby

Per Mertesacker has bemoaned Arsenal’s sluggish north London derby performance on Saturday after a 2-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur.

The Gunners broke the deadlock against the run of play after Mesut Ozil capitalised on Olivier Giroud’s miscued shot and fired emphatically past Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in 11th minute at White Hart Lane.

However, Spurs striker Harry Kane, who signed a new five-and-a-half year Tottenham deal last Monday, levelled 12 minutes after half-time before the 21-year-old sealed three points with four minutes remaining thanks to a clinical header.

Arsenal had won five successive games before the local clash against Spurs, and Gunners captain Mertesacker felt Arsene Wenger’s side took too long to grow into the game.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Mertsacker said: “We found a way recently to prepare ourselves on crosses better defensively (and also) on set-pieces, but we did not switch on quickly enough and were not up for proper defending, so that was worse than in recent weeks,” Mertesacker said.

“We were not active enough and only started to play our game a bit towards the end, that took us too long.

“When we had the ball, we could not find any solutions, they were always at us and we could not get the ball quickly in our own half so we could not hurt them on the counter-attack.”

Tottenham hoisted themselves above Arsenal and into fifth place courtesy of their dramatic win at The Lane on Saturday.

The Gunners face Leicester City at The Emirates on Tuesday night, whilst Spurs make the trip to top-four rivals Liverpool at Anfield.

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