Per Mertesacker: 'We must maintain focus'

Per Mertesacker celebrates scoring Arsenal's first on November 17, 2012
© PA Photos
Arsenal defender Per Mertesakcer believes that his side will benefit from the intense pressure of facing teams fighting for relegation in their final two fixtures.

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has declared that his side will benefit from playing their final two matches against sides involved in a fierce relegation battle.

The Gunners laboured to a 1-0 success over a Queens Park Rangers side with nothing to play for last weekend, keeping their top-four chase on track thanks to Theo Walcott's early strike.

With just three points separating Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, the race for Champions League qualification looks set for a dramatic conclusion.

Mertesacker thinks that his in-form side will thrive under the pressure of facing Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United next week as both teams fight to avoid the drop.

He told the club's official website: "Sometimes it is hard to play against a side who are relaxed on the pitch. You could see that against Manchester United last week as they were champions.

"So I think it is good for us to play against teams who are under pressure. It helps us keep our focus on a high level.

"Both teams (Chelsea and Tottenham) have their future in their own hands so we are in a bit of holding position. We will have to wait and see what happens. We can't do anything. But then we know we have to win the games that are coming anyway."

The German defender has formed a strong central partnership with Laurent Koscielny in recent weeks, helping Arsenal keep three clean sheets in their last four matches.

Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker applaud the fans after the match against Aston Villa on November 24, 2012
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