In the 13 games that Thomas Vermaelen did not play this season Arsenal were unbeaten, conceding just five goals.
The Arsenal skipper constantly takes the ball from the defensive third into midfield before dispatching it to another player. Although popular with the fans, this move leaves a costly hole in Arsenal’s defence. This season Vermaelen has stats that show a striking inferiority to Arsenal target Ashley Williams.
While £10 milion is a lot for a 28-yearold who has spent most of his career outside of England’s top tier, his stats prove that Williams is worth the money. The Wales skipper topped the Premier League for blocks and clearances this season, and holds the record for interceptions this season.
Some have seen these issues in the Belgian’s game as a reason to call for him to be sold with Williams his likely replacement, but when the likes of Barcelona are after his signature there must be something good about him.
I’m certainly not calling for Arsenal to go out and buy Williams but what is clear is that Vermaelen is not playing his best in the central defender role.
Because of his comfort with the ball at his feet, and his ability to control the ball, as well as his slick passing and goal grabbing abilities, it seems that Vermaelen should be moved into a holding midfielder role - similar to the move that David Luiz made for Chelsea - in order to play at his best.
Sitting in front of the back four as a defensive midfielder would allow him to charge forwards without leaving the costly holes that he has left this season.
This would also solve several other problems. Arsenal have been in need of cover at the holding role since Alex Song’s departure to Barcelona, and while Mikel Arteta has graciously filled that void this season, he could be utilized so much better else where, further up the field.
This would mean that Arsenal would save money on a big name in this position, which could go towards a big centre-back and a proven centre forward.
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