Thomas Vermaelen: Pros and Cons of the Defender’s ‘Potential’ Exit in January
When Thomas Vermaelen graced the Emirates following a successful spell at Ajax, Arsenal fans were awed at his aggressive style of defending and no-nonsense attitude, as he worked in tandem with William Gallas winning a place in the 2010 PFA Team of the Year. In his first full season at Arsenal, Vermaelen scored six goals making him one of the highest scoring center backs in that campaign.
A nasty Achilles tendon injury haunted him in his second season with the club but the arrival of Laurent Koscielny was welcome as the Frenchman played alongside Johan Djourou to forge a formidable partnership. Following the departure of Robin van Persie at the start of last season, Arsene Wenger handed the captaincy over to Vermaelen and his labored performances last season showed that it was a big burden for him to bear.
After another shambolic performance against Tottenham, Wenger axed the skipper from the squad, bringing in Koscielny to play alongside the cool, calm and collected Per Mertesacker and together, Arsenal had a new solid base in defense to work with and the Gunners went on an amazing run, winning eight league games and drawing two games to pip Tottenham to fourth place.
This season, the Koscielny-Mertesacker combo picked up where they left off and the Gunners accumulated 10 successive wins since the opening day defeat to Aston Villa. With Vermaelen watching matches consistently from the dugout, it affected his chances of playing for his red-hot nation, Belgium, as Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany played together at the back in their recent qualifiers.
In the wake of Vermaelen’s lack of first-team action in recent weeks, he has expressed his concerns over missing out on a World Cup ticket to Rio and has stated that he may need to consider his future in January ahead of the World Cup,
“I’ll have to think about that when it’s necessary. “January is still a few months ahead. Of course, never playing will not be the ideal situation for me to go to the World Cup, that’s for sure.”
Vermaelen is either an injury or suspension away from getting a run-out in the heart of Arsenal’s defense and we cannot expect Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny to play every grueling game this season, as the Gunners are currently challenging for four competitions.
However, should Vermaelen decide to submit a transfer request in January, here would be the pros and cons of his potential exit.
Arsenal Will Have to Invest in a New Defender
Vermaelen’s potential exit in January could rock Arsenal but if the Gunners replace him with a like for like defender, he may not be missed. The Gunners have been heavily linked with Swansea’s defensive lynchpin, Ashley Williams, and Vermaelen’s departure would pave the way for Williams to play alongside his compatriot, Aaron Ramsey, at the Emirates.
Arsenal Would Elect a New Captain that Would be an Inspirational Leader on the Pitch and off it
Thomas Vermaelen became Arsenal’s vice-captain behind the talismanic Robin van Persie and the baton was handed over to him when the Flying Dutchman departed to join Manchester United. Vermaelen’s reign as captain saw him put up some atrocious performances and his lashed clearance at Old Trafford fed the ball straight to van Persie and the pantomime villain wasted no time in punishing Arsenal.
Vermaelen’s vice-captain, Mikel Arteta, showed his true worth to the team when he obeyed his manager’s instructions to curb his attacking instincts to play as the club’s primary holding midfielder after the surprise departure of Alexandre Song. On the pitch, Arteta gives his all to the team and also leads by example by keeping a cool head to slot a couple of penalties when the need arises.
Should Vermaelen decide to leave Arsenal in January, the captaincy would be passed on to a player worthy of it, and in Per Mertesacker, the Gunners have an able vice-captain to Arteta.
A Gaping Hole in Defense
Arsenal is like a walking time bomb waiting to explode as they are desperately short at the back, but Arsene Wenger folded his arms and invested heavily in an attacking talent like Mesut Ozil. There was a period when Vermaelen was out for some weeks and Koscielny suffered a gashed head in the game against Fenerbahce, causing Bacary Sagna, a right back by trade, to deputize for the injured Frenchman.
If Vermaelen departs in January and the Gunners fail to replace him, there would be a gaping hole in the defense and the fans would come all blazing with their torches and pitchforks if the Gunners fail to achieve some success as they failed to replace a player with Vermaelen with equal or better talent out there.
The Potential New Signing has to Acclimatize to the Premier League
Even Koscielny and Mertesacker struggled when they joined the club but with more game time and acclimatization to their new surroundings, their performances improved drastically. Now, the Koscielny-Mertesacker combination is indispensable at the expense of the club’s captain, Thomas Vermaelen.
If the Verminator departs and the Gunners replace him with a new defender like Kyriakos Papadoupoulos, coming from a different footballing culture, he may struggle in the second half of the campaign and that may not go down well with the fans.
Despite the fact that Vermaelen may harbor some slight hopes of leaving in January, he also knows that an injury or suspension would pave a way for him to return to the team and he’s willing to take his chance,
“People ask me if I panic because I’m not playing a lot but I’m not. I have spoken to the manager but it will remain private between us. Things can happen in a split second and change my situation. That can happen tomorrow or next weekend.”
Wojciech Szczesny was also dropped alongside Vermaelen in the run-in but a Lukasz Fabianski injury allowed Szczesny to return to the side and since then, he hasn’t looked back. Now Szczensy has a hungry Fabianski and newbie, Emiliano Viviano waiting for him to cock up or get injured, but his dominant and commanding performances have shown that competition brings out the best in footballers.
Kieran Gibbs saw Nacho Monreal as a potential threat to his place when he was out injured but since his return, Gibbs has been a massively improved player, keeping a full international like Monreal on the bench. That’s what competition is all about.
At the start of the campaign, Vermaelen promised to stay and fight for his place. I really hope that he doesn’t chicken out in January 2014.
To vote for Gooner Daily for the 2013 OYAA award of Best Online Media for Sport, please click here.
To nominate goonerdaily.wordpress.com as the Best Sports Blog (section 23) for the 2013 Nigerian Blog Awards, please click here.
You can download the Gooner Daily BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.
You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back
Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page and click on the like button.
You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button
Posted on October 17, 2013, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Thomas Vermaelen. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.
I like him and think we should try to rotate him in for some games and give him a chance to work his way back to full fitness and captaincy. He can be better than he was before and I see determination in his eyes and face. True warrior.
He’s a great player. I hope he stays
I have seen Williams play and TV is much better at his best.
I can not believe most football writers and Arsenal fans believe and keep saying that Laurent Koscielny is better than Thomas Vermaelen. Though, Vermaelen had a blip last season but that is part of foot football, it happens to every footballer. Koscielny just seven games in the has caused Arsenal three penalties, two resulting to our loss to Aston Villa at the Emirates. I think Arsene Wenger does not know how to rotate his squad, and that is a potential danger as the ones frequently used may suffer from fatigue and the unused ones get rusty on the bench. Consenquently, it could drastically affect our season. Other clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool all have more than three centre backs yet the players are all happy because there is squad rotation. Jack Wilshere is not good at all this season but Wenger is frequently using him. Drop Wilshere to the bench and use fit players.
That’s where the problem lies. Wenger hardly rotates his squad which is quite unfortunate for a manager with so many quality players in his disposal
My view is we need as many quality players as we can !Vermaelen certainly fits the bill!
Back in the 1970/71 Double Season we had Frank McLintock & Peter Simpson who were superb as a pair but on ocaisions when need we had John Roberts who stepped in & was superb too!
Can understand Thomas Vermaelen,s frustration but really hope he stays!
Not all penalties that have been caused by KOSHER have been warranted. On two occasions the tackle was perfect but we had a shit referee. JACK also needs to be rotated in and out some games to come back to his full potential we all know he has. Look at AARON, if not for chances he was given last year he wouldn’t be the player he is now. His injury though not as serious as AARON did sideline him for a long time.