Arsenal bring Per Mertesacker back for likely aerial duel with Andy Carroll

Arsène Wenger expects giant centre-half to be fit and in the trenches for West Ham bombardment

Arsène Wenger hopes he has Per Mertesacker ready for the aerial challenge of West Ham United this evening. Arsenal travel to Upton Park where they are likely to face a returning Andy Carroll.

Mertesacker has started the season well before suffering from a virus which has afflicted the Arsenal squad. His heading ability would certainly be useful if he recovers.

"He has made a big leap," Wenger said of Mertesacker's form this season, "and he came back very fit and has improved his fitness a lot. His mobility. He looks very sharp on the first day that he came back. He lost some weight. And that helps of course."

The Arsenal manager is an admirer of Carroll, who should make his second West Ham start today. "I rate him, and don't l think we have seen the best of him until now," Wenger said. "Since I have seen him at West Ham, he looks back to the Carroll we have seen at Newcastle, that means with less pressure."

Wenger does not believe that today's threat is purely aerial, though. "West Ham have a good mixture," he said. "They can come from midfield. [Mohamed] Diame can make a difference. [Kevin] Nolan is always dangerous on the second ball. And [Matt] Jarvis is a technical player."

"You know your players need to be 100 per cent focused. One mistake - you can have a virtual domination and lose the game. It's a concentration challenge as well." As well as a late decision at centre-back, Wenger is still searching for his favoured centre-forward. While no-one has taken over Robin van Persie's role, Wenger said the newly collegial approach to goal-scoring was a good thing.

Van Persie last season scored 30 of Arsenal's 74 Premier League goals. This year the burden is being shared, after his move to Manchester United. "We have no choice," explained Wenger, "as we had one that scored so many." Losing Van Persie meant losing Van Persie-dependence too and Wenger said that this was healthier for the team, revealing just how desperate his players were last year to be led out by their captain, the talismanic Dutch striker.

"Because when Van Persie was injured of course it is not only that you cannot score goals any more," Wenger said. "It is the psychological consequences on the morale of the team. 'Does Van Persie play on Saturday?' Players ask you already, does Van Persie play on Saturday or not, when he has two or three days out."

Wenger signed two strikers from the continent in the hope of replacing Van Persie's 30 goals, but admitted they might not quite make up the required numbers. "We bought Lukas Podolski [who had scored] 20 [league goals last season] and [Olivier] Giroud 20, that is 40," Wenger said. "But it unfortunately has not worked out like that."

Giroud is yet to score in the Premier League, with Gervinho rather surprisingly becoming the main centre-forward so far. Wenger hopes that the other wide and creative players will help to contribute. "We hope always that [Theo] Walcott can improve his number of goals. Gervinho as well," he said "[Santi] Cazorla will get a few. He gets in good positions and does not always finish. But he looks like he can score goals."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project