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Mertesacker: Third place a must for Arsenal

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker is worried his team could slip to fourth in the Premier League, talking up the importance of Sunday’s trip to Manchester United.

Arsene Wenger’s men looked certain for a top-three finish before they suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Swansea City last time out.

Still, they sit two points clear of fourth-placed Manchester United and have a game in hand on Louis van Gaal’s side.

Mertesacker is keen to avoid seeing his team slip to fourth, which would see Arsenal in the Champions League play-offs.

“When you look at the schedule, the break will not be that much,” the German said.

“Even for non-international players, it is pretty weird. And we have a couple of under-21 players, a couple of Copa America I think, so it will again be a tight schedule, so we’ll try to really avoid that.”

Mertesacker has pinpointed the midfield battle as being crucial at Old Trafford.

The 30-year-old said Francis Coquelin had a big role to play to nullify United midfielder Marouane Fellaini in the middle of the park.

“I think most important are the duels in midfield, around Marouane Fellaini,” Mertesacker said.

“Francis Coquelin did really well last time. I think that is a major part of their game. We need to try to control this.

“It’s not going to be easy. They obviously want to keep the ball as much as possible. Can we restrict it? Can we get the ball in their half and break? That is what we did last time and we did really well.”

Wed 13 May, 2015
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