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MORE SPIRIT NEEDED
Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is of the opinion that the grit and spirit that Arsenal showed in the comeback win over Wigan in the FA Cup semifinals will help them finish in the top four. Arsenal have been concentrating on the FA Cup semi-final for the last few weeks. This coupled with a poor form in the league has allowed the likes of Everton to close the gap. In fact, Everton have overtaken Arsenal after having played the same number of matches. The blues have a two-point advantage over the gunners with four matches remaining.
Arsenal’s poor form came to an end after the club managed a win over Wigan athletic on penalties to reach the FA Cup finals. Vermaelen played a big role in this comeback victory, as he started ahead of the regular centre back Laurent Koscielny. Despite being the Arsenal captain, Vermaelen has often been on the bench for Arsenal. He has been linked with a move away from the club. For long periods of the match, it looked like Wigan would be able to create one of the shocks in the FA Cup by sneaking into the finals after a goal from Jordi Gomez in the second half.
Per Mertesacker, though, equalised with less than 10 minutes remaining and Arsenal won 4-2 on penalties.
“There was a lot of talk about needing the result for a few different reasons, for the manager and showing we could fight and I think we did that. It will give us a boost for the rest of the season now, we can move forward with confidence. I’m very happy that we’ll go to the final, that’s why you play these games of course. It was a long game with extra-time and penalties, it’s never easy but it’s a good win,” said Vermaelen.
Thomas Vermaelen’s season with Arsenal has seen him making a limited amount of appearances for Arsene Wenger and he already has released statements of the possibility of him leaving the Premier League club at the end of the current campaign with Napoli being a strong candidate on signing him.
The Belgian defender remains unsure whether or not if he will sign a new contract with Arsenal or if he is going to be remaining with the Premier League club for the upcoming seasons.
“I do occasionally have the chance to play, but you must remember that the players in front of me are incredibly fit and play almost all the time”
“Of course I was hoping for more playing time. I do not know whether I will sign a new contract. We’ll see at the end of the season. We are very much in the title race and have a chance of winning the cup. My future is currently not on the agenda. These are worries for later.” Vermaelen said.
Vermaelen has more than 1 year remaining on his contract with Arsenal but he will only stay with the club if he can get guaranteed playing time. If he cannot get a secured spot in the starting lineup of Wenger, it is likely that the 28 years old defender will be leaving the club with Napoli on the horizon.
With the Premier League reaching its last few months, Chelsea and Manchester City are appearing to be the top candidates on winning the Premier League title this season but Arsenal still remains in the running with just a few points behind the top dogs and Vermaelen still has hope that Arsenal can win it.
“All of the teams are strong and every team can beat another. We still have to believe in it. Every game has its own story. It’s a pity that we haven’t played well in the away games against the top teams, but there’s nothing wrong with our mental strength’’. Vermaelen added on.
NOT THE GREATEST
Thomas Vermaelen’s current campaign with Arsenal is not going through the best of times as he has only made 11 appearances so far for the side of Arsene Wenger with injury problems that has left him enjoying more time on the sidelines than on the actual playing grounds.
The Belgian’s lack of matches is not only due to his injuries but the emergence of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as the man center backs of Arsenal has seen Vermaelen taking a backup position.
The partnership of Mertesacker and Koscielny has formed a defence that has seen Arsenal being one of the clubs in the Premier League with fewer goals conceded which just demonstrates the effectiveness both players have.
Reports are being spread around concerning the future of Vermaelen as he is believed to be targeted by the Russian club Zenit St.Petersburg. Considering his lack of matches and recent out of form performances it might just be a wise decision for Vermaelen to make if he wants to go into the 2014 World Cup at his absolute best form.
Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Daniel Van Buyten and a number of other several rising stars could threaten the starting spot of Vermaelen at the World Cup. He can either make a loan switch to Zenit St.Petersburg or wait until he can get a shot in the starting lineup of Wenger.
Zenit St.Petersburg has already offloaded some of their funds as they managed to sign Salomon Rondom from Rubin Kazan and are set to make an offer of around €15 million for the Belgian defender who recently entered their radar. The Russian club is currently located at the top of their league and is hoping that the addition of Vermaelen will help them continue the positive campaign that they are going through.
DIP IN FORM
Vermaelen’s dip of form and string of serious injuries has kept him out of Arsenal’s main team not only of this season but for the majority of the year as well, only being able to play in 6 Premier League matches so far.
His contract extends until June of 2015 but in the condition that Vermaelen is with the club, reports have been emerging linking him with a possible move away from Arsenal. Napoli are strong contenders on signing him up in January but the Belgium defender has already stated that he will do everything he can to remain in the club.
Vermaelen told the Belgian TV station Sporting Telenet:”I don’t like to talk about my situation. It doesn’t matter. I am a player of Arsenal and I will do everything for this club. We will see what happens. It makes no sense to speculate about my future’’.
“We are still happy about our place in the table. To be title contenders we have to be very consistent. In the Premier League, everything is possible.”
The partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny has seen Vermaelen taking a step out of the starting lineup of Arsene Wenger and enjoying more time on the sidelines, he made his 2nd Premier League start for Arsenal during their match against Chelsea and Walcott said that he was happy to see him back in the pitch.
Walcott told Standard Sport: “He can have a big part to play in our season, without a doubt. It’s a great thing at this club that we have a lot of competition for places now’’.
“Thomas wanted to prove a point and I’m sure the way he played against Chelsea, he is definitely in the manager’s thoughts now. He has sat on the bench the whole season, he hasn’t sulked. He has come in every day and been the first one out at training. He’s a top guy, a top skipper.”
Arsene Wenger did say that he was impressed at the attitude that Vermaelen took after being dropped into the sidelines and has no intentions on releasing him or letting him go in January.
STAYING AT ARSENAL
Thomas Vermaelen has insisted that he is not thinking about leaving Arsenal during the upcoming mid-season transfer window.
A few weeks back, in one of his interviews, Vermaelen had hinted that he might be taking a transfer in January, but, it seems that the 28 years old defender has changed his mind now and he has made it quite clear that he is committed to Arsenal.
Vermaelen has spent most parts of the ongoing season sitting on the sidelines. He had been a regular member of the Gunners side in the last couple of seasons, but, in this season, he has made just 5 appearances for them so far.
When asked if he has started thinking about transfer because of the lack of playing chances, the Belgian international said, “No, not at all. I am thinking positively and I am ready to wait for the chances. I have had a fantastic time at this club in the last few years and I want to stay here.”
“It’s a team game and you need to see what is good for the team. The players who are playing regularly are doing quite well. We are leading the league points table and that’s the most important thing.”
“As I had said before that things can change very quickly in professional football. Anything can happen at any point of time. But, right now, my priority is to make my way back into the side as soon as possible. I am not thinking about any other thing at the moment.”
Vermaelen had arrived at the Emirates Stadium 4 years back in 2009. Since then, he has featured for the Gunners in 99 Premier League matches and has found the back of the net on 13 occasions.
Thomas Vermaelen to miss start of season
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has confirmed club captain Thomas Vermaelen will indeed miss the star of the season through injury.
The Belgian international defender aggravated a back problem that has haunted him for some time during the club’s pre-season tour of Asia last month and according to the Gunners’ boss, he is expected to be out for another four to six weeks. The Frenchman, however, had some piece of good news for the club’s fans as he admitted that left back Nacho Monreal could make a swift return to action than expected and is expected back in training in a couple of days after suffering from a back problem of his own as well.
Speaking to the reporters before the Emirates Cup, Wenger stated that Thomas Vermaelen could be out for four to six weeks while they expect Monreal to start training on Monday. The manager also confirmed that the former Ajax Amsterdam man will retain the captain’s arm band despite missing the start of the season.
Vermaelen had been linked with a move away from the club in recent months after Wenger had dropped him for all but one of the club’s last 11 games in the Premier League with Barcelona said to be interested in the player as a cover for ageing Carles Puyol and the error prone Gerard Pique at the heart of their defense. He had also been linked with a shock move to Manchester United for some time.
But with Wenger insisting the player will captain the side; it seems Thomas Vermaelen will remain at the club for one more season. Wenger stated the tour of Asia was intense and the heat was a factor as well and admitted that he is happy that no other players picked up any injuries during the pre-season tour.
Thomas Vermaelen has admitted that he was a bit frustrated with lack of playing opportunities in the last season, but, he has also hinted that he is not planning to leave Arsenal at this point of time.
Vermaelen was appointed as the skipper of Arsenal after Robin Van Persie’s exit at the start of the last season. He was the first choice centre-back for Arsene Wenger and an absolute certainty in the starting XI.
But, his form deteriorated as the season progressed and he eventually lost his place in the starting XI. In the second half of the season, he was mostly warming the bench.
There had been speculations in the last few days that Vermaelen is unhappy with limited playing chances given to him by Arsene Wenger and he might decide to leave the club. But, the Belgian defender denied that in one of his interviews recently.
When asked about lack of playing opportunities in the last season, Vermaelen said, “It was obviously quite frustrating because I was not used to such kind of a scenario. But, there is nothing much you can do about that. When your form is poor, you deserve to sit out.”
“I didn’t take the decision of the manager negatively. His decision was purely based on form and I had no problem with that. But, you don’t feel good when you sit on the sidelines.”
Vermaelen is on the radar of a few big clubs including Napoli and Juventus this summer.
According to the reports, both Antonio Conte (manager of Juventus) and Rafa Benitez (newly appointed manager of Napoli) like Vermaelen’s style of play and both of them are eager to secure his services.
Vermaelen had joined Arsenal in June 2009 after leaving the Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam.
The Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger decided to drop the goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and the defender Thomas Vermaelen for the match against Bayern Munich in the Champions league.
As a result of being dropped from this crucial match, questions have been raised about the future of these two players at the club. Vermaelen continues to be linked with Barcelona, while it is reported that Wenger is not entirely happy with the performances of the Polish international Szczesny this season. He is thought to be looking at several goalkeepers like Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes.
Wenger stated that he was dropping Szczesny from the Bayern Munich match because the player was affected by the number of matches he has played this season. However, he has refused to comment on whether both Szczesny and Vermaelen will be recalled for the crucial weekend match against Swansea. Wenger is thought to be extremely happy with the performances of Lucas Fabianski, who made several saves against Bayern Munich. The French defender Laurent Koscielny not only had an excellent partnership with the German international Mertesacker, but he also scored a goal as well. As a result, both the replacements could be retained for the match this week as well.
Wenger has said that Vermaelen and Szczesny should not take their first team places for granted. “They [Vermaelen and Szczesny] are two outstanding players who are part of our squad. They have played so many games until now. Their position is very important in the squad. But every position is up for grabs. You have to face it like that, the last game decides the next one. All the players are in the same position. Nobody is guaranteed places in the team. Everybody faces the same competition and the players who [have] come in have been on the bench for a long, long time,” said Wenger.
THOMAS NOT SURPRISED
The captain of Arsenal, Thomas Vermaelen, has said that if Theo Walcott decides to leave Arsenal next summer, it would not surprise him at all. Walcott’s contract with Arsenal is going to expire at the end of this season.
According to some reports, Walcott wants a significant increment in his weekly salary and only then, he will sign a new contract, but, the club doesn’t want to increase his weekly salary that much. However, a few days back, in one of his interviews, Walcott had hinted that the contract issues have almost been sorted now and he might be signing a new contract soon. But, Vermaelen’s statement suggests the contract issues are still there.
When asked about the extension of Walcott’s contract, Vermaelen said, “As a captain, I don’t want him to leave as he is a fantastic player and has been in great form recently. But, we can’t do anything regarding contract issues. Only the club officials and the player himself can sort out these issues.”
When asked about the form of Walcott, Vermaelen said, “He has been in fine nick in the last few games. He hasn’t got regular opportunities in this season so far, but, whenever he has played, he has made a mark. He is an impact player and if he is in top form, he can create a lot of troubles for the opposing team.”
Vermaelen’s own form hasn’t been great in the ongoing season. In the last season, he had performed brilliantly and that’s why, he was given the opportunity to captain the team in this season, but, he has looked out of form in most of the matches in the ongoing season and has made a number of mistakes.
When asked about his own form, Vermaelen said, “It’s true that I haven’t been in top form so far in the season, but, my performance hasn’t been too bad either. I have been there or thereabouts. Yes, I have made a few mistakes, but, when you play more than 30 games, there will always be a few mistakes here and there.”
CAPTAINCY AFFECTS VERMAELEN
The Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that he feels that the performances of the Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen have taken a dip in recent weeks due to the pressure of captaincy affecting him. Following the departure of players like William Gallas and Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie was made the captain of the team.
However, the Dutchman also left the club in the summer for Manchester United. Vermaelen has been one of the outstanding players at the club since arriving for £ 10 million a few seasons ago. He was made the captain of the team by the manager this season.
However, he has committed a number of mistakes at crucial times in the matches, which have often led to bad results for Arsenal. This has become even more concentrated upon by the media following the recent poor results by Arsenal. Wenger has said that the Belgian is more concerned about his poor performances than anybody else. He said that the pressure of captaincy is starting to affect him because being a captain is not just being another player. A captain has to set an example on the pitch, and this factor is causing a dip in form for Thomas Vermaelen according to Wenger.
“On Tuesday [away to Schalke in the Champions League] he was outstanding. I think what has happened to him in recent weeks has affected his confidence. Physically he has no problem. You put more pressure on yourself when you are the captain. You want to be the best player in the team. You cannot be a defender and not make a mistake. But if you make one then maybe you put a bit more pressure on yourself,” said Wenger. Arsenal’s poor form did not improve in the weekend match against Aston Villa, but they did keep a clean sheet.