PER MERTESACKER reckons Arsenal must shackle Marouane Fellaini if they are to clinch victory at Manchester United on Sunday.
The Arsenal skipper views Fellaini as United’s dangerman at Old Trafford and has called on French midfielder Francis Coquelin to keep him in check once again.
Fellaini’s aerial threat and runs into the box have seen him bag eight goals this year for a resurgent United.
But Coquelin did a job on Fellaini in the 2-1 FA Cup victory in March while Jose Mourinho employed centre-back Kurt Zouma to cancel the Belgian out in Chelsea’s 1-0 home win last month.
Mertesacker said: “Francis did really well last time. The most important are the duels in midfield, around Fellaini. 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.
“We are feeling positive. We won there once and it’s possible to do that twice per season.”
Even so, after Monday’s shock 1-0 home defeat to Swansea Mertesacker concedes the Gunners are now battling to avoid finishing fourth for a third season in a row.
Louis van Gaal’s outfit can overtake third placed Arsenal if they win on Sunday, although Arsene Wenger’s side will still have a game in hand at home to struggling Sunderland.
Fearing Arsenal may have to negotiate the Champions League play-offs for another season, Mertesacker added: “We are still in a good mood and good level of confidence, but the Swansea defeat shows how quickly football can change.
“When you don’t execute, you get punished. That was a good reminder how important it is to score, how important it is to get the opener when you have the opportunities.
“When you don’t do that in the Premier League, you are battling for fourth place, not second. How simple is that.
“It’s very important not to have to play that Champions League qualifier in August because, when you look at the schedule, the break will not be that much.
“So it will be a tight schedule again so we’ll really try to avoid that.”