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.
VERMAELEN GUARANTEES DEFENSIVE SOLIDITY
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|
|Average Goals For||2.06||2|
|Average Goals Against||0.94||2.33|
|Points per game||2.06||1.33|
Thomas Vermaelen – Premier League 2011/12
|Minutes On Pitch||1,488|
|Tackle Success Rate||86%|
|Ground Duels won %||61%|
|Aerial Duels won %||62%|
|Touches per game||65.1|
|Pass Completion %||84%|
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.