Arsenal's Steve Bould: 'We hope Mertesacker is fit for the weekend'

Per Mertesacker

Arsene Wenger’s assistant manager Steve Bould spoke after Arsenal’s home win against Olympiakos on Wednesday evening, ahead of their weekend fixture at West Ham United.

The former arsenal player has been praised for the effect he’s had on the team’s defending but, after a demoralizing loss to Chelsea last weekend, in which the Gunners gave away “two cheap goals”, their defensive frailties have been exposed once again.

Despite a solid win midweek, Arsenal now face Sam Allardyce’s West Ham who he described as a “handful”, especially from set pieces, an well documented Achilles heal for the Gunners.

“It’s a results industry and we ground it out.” He said,

“We’ve done okay. We haven’t had an awful lot of goals against. The goals that have been against have been mainly set pieces which we’re all disappointed with and I think we can improve on.”

He now only has two days to prepare for Saturday’s fixture, something that, he admitted, he hadn’t started working on with Arsenal:

“I didn’t actually see the game on Monday but we’ll have a look at that tomorrow. It’s a difficult place to go and play. We’ve got to defend well on Saturday.”

However, whilst they’ve looked “shaky” at the back, the North Londoners will be boosted by strident performances at the other end. Bould was quick to praise the emergence of Gervinho as a converted striker:

“Number one, he’s scoring goals. His confidence is sky-high. And number two, his link play is gradually improving and he’s learning his trade there. He’s a danger. With his pace and movement, he could be a top player.”

But the coach played down comparisons to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, who also arrived at the club as a winger,

“If he get’s anywhere near Thierry Henry, we’ll take that all day long. But at the moment he’s learning his trade there and we’re delighted.”

Gervinho scored the opening goal of the Gunners win on Wednesday. The second came from Lukas Podolski, taking his tally to 4 goals so far this season. Bould has high hopes for the German’s form.

“He’s a fantastic finisher.” He said. “He really is deadly and long may that continue.”

His German international teammate Per Mertesacker was not included in the squad on Wednesday but Bould is hoping he’ll make a return in time for Saturday.

“He was ill this morning. A virus, I believe. We’re hoping he’s fit for the weekend.”

Chances are they’ll need the 6ft6” centre-back against the Hammers. Striker Andy Carroll, on loan from Liverpool, has yet to score this season but, given his track record against Arsenal, he’s likely to feature in Saturday’s London derby.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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