Per Mertesacker admits there were serious doubts inside the Arsenal locker room after the first game of the season.

The German revealed the mood ­going into 2014 is in stark ­contrast to the pessimism ­following the opening day defeat by Aston Villa.

He said: "When we lost that first game, everyone was in a bad mood but we have turned things around completely and are delighted.

"We've had a great first half of the season and the aim now is to stay where we are. But we are contenders. That is all. We have not won anything yet."

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