Arsene Wenger scotched exit rumors of defender Thomas Vermaelen leaving the Gunners emphatically when he said on Arsenal TV that keeping him out of the team is a difficult decision he has to take.
The Belgian was the rock of an otherwise wafer thin Arsenal defence couple of seasons back, injuries and both Koscielny and Mertesacker finding a purple patch have led to a situation where he has to sit out for most of the matches Arsenal have played this season.
Pretty tough on someone who pundits tipped to be another defensive force on the lines of a John Terry or Rio Ferdinand. Arsenal’s splendid display overall and especially by the central defensive pair of Koscielny and Mertesacker has led to speculation that Vermaelen has all of a sudden become surplus to requirements and could leave the club.
Good that Wenger has put a lid on such speculations given Arsenal’s injury record in the last few seasons. The squad has often been beset with a horde of players missing due to injuries (both short and long term) in critical phases of the League which has often led Wenger to try out untested youngsters in key fixtures. Now that Wenger has a readily available quality centre-back as a backup at his disposal, it would put to bed a lot of his worries in the defense department.
Vermaelen can also step up when there is a need of a stop gap left back and his strong aerial ability and shooting can be handy when the team needs a goal out of nowhere. Title winning teams are known to be built from the back and Vermaelen surely add steel to the already strong spine of Arsenal’s heart of defense.
A quality defence pairing can be the crucial differentiator to Win/Loss ratio, Manchester City’s record with/without Vincent Kompany being a case in point. Vermaelen is a talent that the Gunners cannot afford to lose right now, when it seems this is the season they will break their trophy drought.