Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has revealed that the drop in form in the first few months of the season was down to his World Cup hangover, which prevented him from playing at his usual level.
The World Cup winner with Germany goes went to add that the injury to Mesut Ozil was a blessing in disguise for the player, who then got time to ready himself for club football and come back and give a strong performance.
Mertesacker was the culprit in many of Arsenal's dismal performances in the opening half of the season, especially with Laurent Koscielny sitting out with an Achilles' problem. The German was then paired with the likes of Nacho Monreal and Calum Chambers, which forced him at times to play out of position, on the left side of defence, which also had a massive effect on his performances.
Mertesacker was accused for being too fragile in the Gunners' 3-2 loss to Stoke City last year, but the German has raised his performance since then, with the pair allowing only 11 goals past themselves since the turn of the year, which saw only three Premier League defeats for the north London club.
"In the first months, in particular, it was quite difficult to come down and to forget that feeling of being a World Cup champion. It took nearly half a year to realise that. Most of the players [who had been involved in Brazil] got injured; I avoided that but didn't play at my best and that was because I hadn't experienced this feeling before. Sometimes I didn't know how to handle the situation," Mertesacker said.
"The season started, everyone was setting new targets and you need to be really focused on that. Obviously with all the reviews and the pictures, and what you have gone through, that takes some time. To come back to a level where I know I can push on and put myself in a situation where I want to have new targets after the World Cup ... it took half a year and I expected a worse season from myself, honestly. I expected something more severe."
On Ozil's injury, he added,"That was a good one for him. His brain told him: 'I'm not ready.' I think 80% of us got an injury. A lot were out of form, out of the good performances that we were used to having. It was a kind of a trauma and it's important to come back stronger."
The German has an opportunity to double his medals tally for the season with a win over Aston Villa in the finals of the FA Cup on Saturday at Wembley.