Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker believes that if his side are to beat Stoke City on Sunday afternoon, they must focus on keeping it tight defensively in the early stages of the game.

Last season, the Gunners quickly went 3-0 down at the Britannia Stadium and despite scoring twice in the latter stages of the game, the visitors poor start to proceedings ultimately cost them the three points.

Having struggled to cope with the physical and atmospheric side to Mark Hughes’ side in the last couple of seasons, Mertesacker has admitted to Arsenal Player that experience will help the north London club to overcome their opponents.

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It’s going to be tough game, but we have got Petr Cech in the squad who has won there in recent years.

We keep trying to ask him what [they] have done maybe different to us.

We have got more experience in the squad now, but we need to turn up with the right performance from the start.

We haven’t done well in the last couple of seasons so it is a good challenge for us if we can turn it around and win there. It will be a good chance for us to get confidence that we can go through difficult periods, that we can win at Stoke.

That’s why we have to focus on things we haven’t done in the last couple of years.

We keep losing at the start there. We were 3-0 down last year, and came back to 3-2 but you could see at times we need to survive the first half and try to focus on the first minutes.

If we can do that then we have a good chance, especially in the second half when we’re used to playing better, used to control the ball much better, [making] less mistakes.

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Mertesacker will likely start at the heart of the defence alongside Laurent Koscielny in what has become arguably the best partnership in England’s top division.

If Arsenal can beat Stoke on Sunday afternoon, they will leapfrog both Manchester City and Leicester City to move top of the Premier League table ahead of the visit of Chelsea next weekend at the Emirates Stadium.