Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker admits it took time to adapt in England

Per Mertesacker: Admits that life in the Premier League is a huge challenge

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Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has claimed the Premier League is the toughest in the world.

The centre-back who arrived from Werder Bremen last year believes it is a demanding physical test - as exemplified by his battle with Grant Holt in the 1-0 defeat at Norwich on Saturday.

"You know, the German Bundesliga has improved in the past few years and it is quite a good league, but the best in the world in my opinion is the Premier League," he told the Sunday Express.

"That is because of the physical strength. You have to focus on every single tackle and contest in each match. There were quite a few games last season when I didn't have enough focus on tackling. I had to learn it, and learn it quickly, to cope with the physical stuff.

"In Germany it was more about anticipation and positioning and covering team-mates. In the Premier League you have to focus more on your body and be ready for whatever comes at you, the one-on-one battle with the opposing striker. It's fun."

The 28-year-old Germany international had a mixed first season after arriving on the August 2011 deadline day and thanked his manager for having faith he could adapt.

"It was a difficult time for Arsenal when I arrived," he added. "They had bought players quickly in a few days, and there was a new city, a new language and a new team for me to adapt to. You need at least one year to feel comfortable with everything.

"I had a lot of disappointments, but I have come back in a stronger way. It gave me a new motivation to prove myself in England.

"It's nice to hear the applause and the positive comments now. One of the really important things was the trust of Arsene Wenger and assistant manager Steve Bould. They have helped to get me up to the right level. They let me learn, and that makes you stronger as well."