Vermaelen Buy of The Season
During the summer Arsenal made one purchase, Thomas Vermaelen. A relatively unknown defender from Ajax, who according to most “experts”, was too short to make it in the Premier League. Many Arsenal fans were rightly concerned that instead of a burly centre half in the mould of Hangeland, instead of a speedy defender we acquired someone who is as fast as Senderos and we let Toure leave.
In several pre-season games, Vermaelen was proven to be short of speed, but he had other attributes and soon Arsenal fans once again happy to say in Arsene we trust.
Vermaelen is not one of the tallest centre backs, or the quickest, but he has a brain. The Belgium captain anticipates where the ball is going to go so he is first to the ball. He waits and waits before he commits a challenge and nicks the ball away from he attacker.
So Vermaelen has proven to everyone that he can defend, but Vermaelen is not just a defender. He is the most comfortable defender on the ball that the Premier League has seen for years. He does not panic when he has the ball, he merely looks up a plays a ball as good as any midfielder in the country.
Then we have goals. You will always expect a defender to score headers at set pieces, but over the last few seasons both Toure and Gallas never scored as many set piece goals as you would want. But the goals that have made people stand up and pay attention were the two left foot strikes against Wigan and Blackburn (correction). Both goals came not from set pieces, but because Vermaelen went forward and kept going forward resulting in two left strikes from outside the area that any striker would envy.
It is early days, but Vermaelen appears to be a great acquisition by Wenger. People talk about what will happen when Song goes to Africa for the Africa Cup of Nations, well if Senderos gets some games and plays well, why not use Vermaelen as the holding midfielder!