LONDON: Per Mertesacker says Arsenal "all looked a bit knackered" against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and that it is vital key players return from injury after the international break.
Arsenal ultimately salvaged a 1-1 draw against Tottenham but, after also -losing 5-1 against Bayern Munich, the warning signs have been flashing amid the loss of 10 players through injury. Mikel Arteta, Laurent Koscielny and David Ospina were back in the squad on Sunday while Aaron -Ramsey, Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all due to return before Arsenal play West Bromwich Albion on Nov 21 in their next league game.
Arsene Wenger has particular concerns, however, over the recent load on Koscielny, Alexis Sanchez, Oliver Giroud and Santi Cazorla, who all now face international games. Theo Walcott is due back within the next month but Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky have little chance of first-team involvement before 2016.
Mertesacker said: "It was fun to play but we all looked a bit -knackered and we gave absolutely everything to get a draw." Asked if that fatigue was due to injuries, he said: "Could be. We stayed with the same line?up as against Munich apart from Gabriel. It is very important to get players back.
"Over a short period you can replace a couple of players but with two games a week you need a lot of players who can replace each other. With players coming back we will gain some more energy."
Kieran Gibbs, who scored Arsenal's goal after coming on in an unfamiliar midfield role, agreed that key -players were tired. "We can go into the international break and -recover and get a few players fit and push on after," he said. "A few of the boys were tired. With me, it was a chance to bring on some fresh legs."
Bellerin's injury has led to a chance for Mathieu Debuchy but he is likely to review his future at Arsenal in January after losing his starting place for both club and country. The 30?year-old is again not part of the France squad against Germany and England and, although he has played Arsenal's last two matches, he has been struggling for match sharpness following ankle and shoulder injuries last season.
"I am dealing with it," Debuchy told Canal+. "We are going to remain concentrated until December, after that I will see." Debuchy was first-choice right-back as France reached the World Cup quarter-final last year but his place is now in major doubt ahead of a home European Championship next summer.