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Why Vermaelen is central to Arsenal’s chances of overtaking Tottenham



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After spending most of the season as the second-best side in North London, Arsenal are suddenly finding form and purpose at the business end of the season, with three big wins in three matches (including that moral-boosting 3-0 win against Milan).

At the same time, Tottenham have hit a rough patch, losing three Premier League games on the trot as their lead in third place is cut down to four points having played a game more than Arsenal in fourth place. Although Tottenham have been facing tough teams in Arsenal and United (and even Everton), it’s their inability to keep clean sheets and put away their chances that has led to this slide.

Arsenal on the other hand are getting it right on both ends of the pitch, and with RVP in the form of his life, if Arsenal can keep it tight at the back, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to overtake Tottenham and finish third this season.

To do that though, they’ll need to be on their best defensively (and that includes City’s visit to the Emirates), and that’s where Thomas Vermaelen comes in.


According to Castrol EDGE performance analysis, Arsenal have conceded under one goal per Premier League game with Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen in the side this season, compared to 2.3 per match without the former Ajax player.

Arsenal with and without Vermaelen – Premier League 2011/12

Arsenal With Vermaelen Without Vermaelen
Games 18 9
Wins 11 4
Draws 4 0
Losses 3 5
Goals For 37 18
Average Goals For 2.06 2
Goals Against 17 21
Average Goals Against 0.94 2.33
Win % 61% 44%
Points per game 2.06 1.33

Thomas Vermaelen – Premier League 2011/12

Player Thomas Vermaelen
Team Arsenal
Appearances 18
Minutes On Pitch 1,488
Tackles Made 35
Tackle Success Rate 86%
Blocks 8
Total Clearances 71
Interceptions 44
Ground Duels 83
Ground Duels won % 61%
Aerial Duels 60
Aerial Duels won % 62%
Fouls 26
Fouls won 13
Yellow Cards 5
Red Cards 0
Touches per game 65.1
Goal Assists 1
Key Passes 6
Pass Completion % 84%
Going Forward
Goals 3
Headed Goals 2
Shots 15

And if Tottenham’s form continues as it is, even Chelsea would fancy their chances of finishing in the Champions League spots, pushing Tottenham from outside title challangers to nailed-on Champions League qualification to Europa League in a matter of months. That would really kill the mood at White Hart Lane, whether Harry stays or leaves.

Also See: Arsenal v Newcastle United preview.