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Jul 15, 2013

Mertesacker predicts title challenge

Olivier Giroud scored twice in the opening game of Arsenal's Asian Tour as the Gunners demolished an Indonesian All Stars side

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker believes Arsene Wenger's side are ready to challenge for major honours next season, with the German revealing the north London club are not preparing to sell another one of their star players this summer.

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Wenger has spent the last few years battling in vain to hang on to star names likes Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie, yet it is player recruitment and not big money sales that appear to be top of the agenda in this off-season.

That change of emphasis has inspired Mertesacker to suggest Wenger's men are well placed to take advantage of the uncertainty that surrounds many Premier League clubs after a glut of managerial changes.

With Arsenal continuing to be linked with ambitious moves for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, the mood in the Gunners camp appears to be buoyant.

"I would say that consistency is the most important thing. If we can do that then we should be challenging for trophies and titles," Mertesacker is quoted in the Daily Mail.

"We haven't sold any players yet so we are coming from a good base at the moment, we're at a good level and no-one is leaving at the moment. Maybe someone will come and strengthen our squad so it's in a better position than last summer when we lost two important players (Robin van Persie and Alex Song)."

Mertesacker formed a potent defensive partnership with Laurent Koscielny in the final months of the last Premier League campaign, guiding Arsenal towards a place in next season's Champions League.

The 28-year-old has suggested the optimistic mood in the Arsenal camp is being fuelled by the lack of negative transfer speculation.

"We had such a strong finish at the end of the season, especially in the last 10 games," he added. "We put out a good team with great spirit and that is the target for the whole season. We must be well prepared both mentally and physically to do it straight from the off. It's very hard to be consistent.

"That's the main reason for Manchester City and Manchester United being successful in the last two years. They have shown for the whole season that they are consistent and that will be our main focus for the next season to show that as well.

"It's a big year for us. We have got the World Cup at the end of it but the focus has to be on Arsenal because, of course, we want to win things and be successful this year."

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