Arsenal News

Live Arsenal News

Arsenal latest news

Arsenal News & Transfers
As featured on NewsNow: Arsenal newsArsenal News 24/7

Arsenal News, Only Arsenal, Blogs, Transfer News


September 2021
Arsenal News
The Soccerlinks Hit List
September 2021

Link Refer


Premier League Betting and Odds

The left back situation Vermaelen and Vertonghen

By Walter Broeckx

Yesterday I wrote an article about the 3 young left backs we have in our squad and the options they bring to fill the gap that has been made after the departure of Clichy.

But today I want to give you another  possible solution also in our team available.  Because with Thomas Vermaelen we have the current left back of Belgium in our squad.  As I am from Belgium I have seen the Belgium national team play on a few occasions. Albeit with only one eye for the football part of the game as I really don’t like the way they have been playing in the last decades.  I usually looked with fear in my heart that Vermaelen might get injured. And in fact he did last season. And this was the reason we lost him the whole season.

But with Vermaelen we have a possible and experienced left back in our team. It is not his favourite position. He likes to play central but as a good captain he does what he is told to do. He is captain of the Belgium national team and undertakes this job like everything he does: with a very serious attitude.

I must admit that I rate him higher as a centre back. But he never lets you down when he plays.  Put him in goal and he will not disappoint you. He also played at left back for Ajax on more than one occasion.

People questioned Vermaelen when he first came to Arsenal because he was not tall enough for a centre back. At left back this will not be that important any more. And besides we know he can jump. He will be better defensively in the air compared to Clichy and this might help us in the future as we have seen on a few occasions that the opposition targeted Clichy with high balls in the air. When Vermaelen plays there they will not find it that easy to beat him in the air.

But the gap that Vermaelen then leaves in the middle should be filled. And to fill this gap we could look at one of his former partners at Ajax and in the Belgium national team.  And if we think Vermaelen could be a versatile player the same could be said of Vertonghen. And he is even more flexible in his positions. He is also just as Vermaelen left footed and this would be very important for the balance of the team and our defence.

He usually plays at centre back for Ajax and in the Belgium national team. But he also has played at left back in his career at Ajax and Belgium when Vermaelen was out injured. But I must say that when I last checked I think Vermaelen is the better left back from the two. And on top of this he also has played as defensive midfielder at Ajax and also in the Belgium national team.

In fact if my memory is still OK he played in midfield when the Belgium Olympic team played at the 2008 Olympics in China. And he was one of their best players and was one of the players responsible for Belgium finishing in an unexpectedly high 4th place in this tournament.

Vertonghen is bigger than Vermaelen with a height of 1.89m. So no reason to say anything about this for the ones who need to moan about something. He is also a leader and someone who will do anything to please the fans. Including insulting the opposition and their fans after winning things.  Sorry Jan but couldn’t leave this out.

Watch Arsenal Live Streams With

Vermaelen and Vertonghen have played together at Ajax for a few years and with Vermaelen being two years older it was Vermaelen who has helped Vertonghen in his first years at Ajax. Since then they are very close personal friends. I know Vertonghen would love to come to Arsenal but it is not just up to the players alone to make such a decision. Ajax will not let him go to Arsenal if they can get more money from another team.

So for once I would say to Arsène if you do want to spend some money I sure wouldn’t be opposed to spending it on Vertonghen.

But it could well be that Wenger has spotted something he doesn’t like from Vertonghen. Or that he knows a reason why Vertonghen isn’t suited for our game. But he is technical very good for a tall centre back, strong in the air, someone that will throw his body in front of the ball if needed.  (Oh my god I sound like I am his agent).  Okay, I like him and after having seen how Vermaelen could cope with the PL I really do believe that Vertonghen could also be a very good signing for Arsenal.

But at the end of the day, who am I to say who we should buy or how we should resolve any problems we have? I leave it up to the people in the know, to sort the problems.  I will be there to support the players on the field. Whoever plays left back.

The left back situation: maybe Arsene doesn’t need to buy

Players who leave Arsenal normally don’t do very well in their careers

The statistical analysis: What would be the best option: Samba or Cahill?

Untold Arsenal on Twitter is in the top 1% of all Twitter sites for followers @UntoldArsenal

On the history site: all the Arsenal players who are now coaches or managers

57 comments to The left back situation Vermaelen and Vertonghen

  • steww

    I think this is the best blog out there by a country mile. However, please can you stop joining in with the utterly tedious close season game of talking about players from other teams. I don’t read an Arsenal blog to read about anything other than Arsenal. We have enough great players of our own. Until anyone is signed they play for someone else and as such are of no interest whatsoever to any self respecting Arsenal fan.
    Proper arsenal news and views or nothing please

  • walter

    Steww, I write two articles over finding a solution for the left back spot and how we can do it with the players we have. And then you pick on the fact that because we have/can to move a player from centre back to left back and I want to offer/bring on a solution who can also play left back and name a player from another team you pick on this.
    I name 5 players in two articles : four are Arsenal players and only one I named from another team.
    Oh well, can’t please everyone I guess 😉

  • Praaam

    Nice article..vermaelen also has a good ability to score goals so he would be good in attack and we know his defensive abilities…not a bad solution…

  • critic

    “But at the end of the day, who am I to say who we should buy or how we should resolve any problems we have? I leave it up to the people in the know, to sort the problems. I will be there to support the players on the field. Whoever plays left back.”

    This line should be written by every bloggers who links/worry about players that will come to fill the void or something like that. Bloggers who are genuine supporter of the club of course.

    Arsene knows better than u,me or any other tom, dick and harry, especially who are in arsenal blogosphere, claiming to worrying themselves to death and screaming(on the basis of you tube clips) to sign X, Y or Z.

    Bloggers should write articles in a way to ‘just’ express their personal opinion and NOT in a “matter of fact” way. As if what they state is a fact, cesc is going, arsene is clueless etc….all those rubbish.

    Sigh…..But who cares, nowadays anyone can write a blog.

  • Jago

    It depends on whether we strengthen the centre back position,
    I know people are against it but TV5 as the defending midfield player is certainly something I’d like to see. Cahill and Samba are both needed I feel as they have qualities that are required when the going gets tough and at present the centre backs at the club have a tendency to go missing.

  • sahil

    I have said in earlier articles on defense that vertoghen can be a good buy.I second your thought walter i would not mind arsene spending big on him.He is technically gifted a arsene kind of player,i believe he can easily fit into our system.

  • Aussie Jack

    With all the uncertainty surrounding us at present I just wonder if this Asia tour is in the best interest of the team.
    Too late to do anything now but I feel playing the traditional Barnet match with a lead up to the Emirates Cup might have been more advantagious than jetting across the world.

  • dan

    does anyone knw if wellington will be loaned out or play 4 us this yr

  • IvoryGoonz

    I’d rather have the partnership Vermaelen-Vertonghen in the centre to be honest, and bring in a decent left back. Otherwise they will be under-performing…

  • Lanz

    All three articles very sweet. I believe that we only need to buy just one person more for the backline and my wish is Vertonghen. I feel the need because we seem to have more injuries at the back more than anyone else, not because the personnel we now have are nor good enough. I believe that Koz is better than all the names being touted now, considering he has been in the EPL only ome season. (Someone even said if we had bought Cahill oe Samba in January we would have won the league!). I suggest we give one of our leftbacks a chance but with Tomas and Jan we will be well covered.

  • Dark Prince

    Tough decisions have to be made in defence….vermaelen is an excellant central defender, if we use him as a left back, then we.ll be light in central defence.

    I guess we do need to buy a superb left back

  • zulu gooner

    good call! this blog is one of the best if not the best arsenal blog in some part because you are so positive and consistent. keep up the good work please! the heading for your blog is also fantastic – and it reminds me of the muted response from the dregs of british journalism to lord wenger being nmed coach of the decade by an independent team. the brit sewer journos were speachless because surely fergie and ole `arry and fat sam are better?!!

  • Dan AKA The Truth

    Arrrrrrggghhhh, Walter!

    Have you just written this article to annoy me? Yesterday’s piece about the three young LBs was good and I praised you for not mentioning Vermaelen as a possible solution, but today… why?

    Yes, Vermaelen’s done a job before for Belgium and Ajax in the left back berth, but he’s a centre-half, and a fantastic one at that. Many Goons attributed our failure last season to Thomas’s absence and yet these same Goons are calling for him to be moved out of his natural position.

    At Arsenal, we already have far too many square pegs in round holes (Bendtner as a left winger, Nasri as a right winger, Arshavin not playing in the hole, Almunía in goal and Denílson as a footballer) and now you all want to excerbate the problem by moving our best centre-half to a full back position? RIDICULOUS!!!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Dan I swear I had written the two “left back” articles before the first one got published. So really not to annoy you. 😉 But it was too long to put in one article.

    I just wanted to be complete. And as Vermaelen is the left back in the Belgium national team I had to mention him as a possible left back.

    So if I would be Wenger I would give the young ones a chance and then if after preseason it looks that it wont work go for Vermaelen or a new left back.

  • eleanor

    I fully expect Wenger to bring in a replacement left back for Clichy. He’s already said that what the team now needs is experience and I can’t see him relying on Gibbs, Traore, or Pedro Botelho and expect things defensively to get better. I also think that there’s a strong likelihood that he’ll look to the Premier League first.

    The impression I have is that Wenger has realized that he needs different team characteristics for both the Premier League and European competition; certainly in central defence, but also at full back.

    And he doesn’t have to be English like the over-priced Leighton Baines, Jose Enrique would do nicely.

    In the end it all depends on who’s available and how much. The apparent calmness over Clichy leaving makes me think that Wenger has more than one option. Though I can’t really see Vermaelen being one of them – not unless we get in two huge thugs at centreback and TV5 becomes a spare.

  • steww

    I’m not having a go at you I’m begging you not to write about transfer speculation. It means you are writing at length about a non Arsenal player – and who cares about anyone not connected with Arsenal.
    It isn’t you and it isn’t Tony it’s the whole summer transfer speculation bullshit that I hate with a passion.
    Anyone signs, we’ll know when they sign we’ll find out if they’re any good when they play.
    End of story.

  • Nii

    wenger should go all out for this vertoghen to be honest this guy will really help as so much wenger get this guy and cahill and we are done

  • steww

    But looking round the blogosphere I see I’m completely alone.
    So depressing, so sad.
    Why not speculate about what Arsene will have done next time he’s at the hairdressers? Why not speculate about a potential meteor strike? It’s all so pointless and so terribly boring.

  • Arvind

    I think it really comes down to ‘Who will fit our style’? A left back at AFC must have these qualities:

    — Recovery speed to get back if you lose the ball upfield
    — Be able to marshal the wing on your own; because of the 4-3-3 and forwards playing narrow; hence a big engine is needed
    — Intercept and launch a counter attack

    The rest of the qualities like heading and crossing while obviously important.. Arsene will be willing to buy someone if he gets someone excellent in the 3 factors that I wrote above.

    Whether that is Vertonghen or our existing kids or some one else, I really dont know because I only watch Arsenal. But it will have to be someone who has those characteristics.

    If AW cannot find someone with those factors, he might well say – Carl Jenkinson is backup RB. Eboue is first choice LB and Gibbs will be backup LB. Or just give one of the kids a go – like Jack Wilshere last year.

    p.s – Don’t read only the Eboue bit and say ‘Wtf?’ – read everything 🙂

  • Notoverthehill

    Please keep writing as you have done, Walter. A team can only improve if one keeps looking at alternatives and that does mean proven performers as against tyros learning the business.

    The Arsenal have proved that in the past five years that an experienced player could make the difference between success and semi-success. There has not been unacceptable failure apart from one or two individuals who should be nameless.

    ManCiteh, Chelski, ManIOU, Liverboston are all spending money as if it has gone out of fashion. The Arsenal have to sign players who have the will to succeed as a team player first second and last.

  • steww

    “A team can only improve if one keeps looking at alternatives”
    Arsene and Ivan will deal with this. Our speculating and baseless opinions have no influence and are pointless.

  • Shard

    Walter, you did seemingly annoy people with the Vermaelen at LB suggestion 🙂 In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to shift our best CB out to the left. It leaves us weaker in the centre and I’m not sure Vermaelen could carry on playing there for an entire season.

    I think we need to buy a LB and a CB(somebody good in the air). I do think though that we should be flexible enough so that Vermaelen can play at left back in certain games, such as against Stoke, to help us against the long ball. Still need to buy a LB though.

  • Stevie E

    Untold is written for a larger audience than 1… if you don’t like the article or the comments, put it out of your mind and go about your business. To slate people who enjoy a bit of harmless debate seems pointless. Isn’t it better than all the negative stuff you read about Arsenal? And be honest, don’t all debates on blogs have absolutely no effect on what actually happens at the club?
    Proper arsenal news and views or nothing please… Jog on then

  • Stroller

    We are talking about specialist defensive positions (CB and LB) here, and very, very rarely have players been equally effective in both of them. In fact I am struggling to think of a single example in the modern English game at the top level.

    I recall both Grimandi and Flamini filling in quite well at full back in past years at Arsenal, but this was strictly temporary arrangement due to injuries.

    So please let’s not start juggling players around to fill gaps. We need quality specialists in all positions, and can afford to get them if required.

  • Steww, as overall editor of Untold, I do take your point, and I think that overall Untold does far less speculation about incoming players than virtually any other site.

    But where we have a bit of insight between us on a particular player from another team (as indeed Walter had earlier with his article on Hazard) I think it is worth publishing. It helps us all gain an informed opinion as to why or why not we might sign someone.

    I would say, however, that in most summers we do more articles on who will step up from the youth ranks rather than on whom we might sign. It was suggested by a reader that we put together a piece on the key people we might sign, and I did that (although with one enormous balls-up in it)but again that’s an exception.

    So please stay with us; these articles represent less than 1% of Untold, and are (as in this case) written from an informed basis.

    I am however currently playing with an article based on the formation and the team we could put out next season if we signed no one new, and if in addition to Clichy we also lose Cesc and Nasri.

  • Adam

    I think Vermaelen has all the needed attributes to play at left back, Its going forward that he would really shine. One thing does surprise me though and that is no one has compared Vermaelen and Clichy as footballers.

  • bob

    I hope that IF, indeed, we buy no one new, that you will also write an eyes-open article on the multiple meanings of buying no one new.

  • Verm could play left back but we will need Cahill and Samba in the Middle

  • bob

    You write:
    “(Someone even said if we had bought Cahill oe Samba in January we would have won the league!). I suggest we give one of our leftbacks a chance but with Tomas and Jan we will be well covered.”
    To me, your posting has two problems:
    (1) in the context of JANUARY, the push for one of the two was to provide quality coverage, quality depth, in the likely/probable/possible event that TV did not come back. That was the talk then, and it was prudent and obvious and turned out to be spot on as TV did not come back. Unless I misread you now, you have taken that concern and desire for quality coverage out of context and make it sound like a stupid conceit. In any case, the January failure to sign quality depth in the defense was a strategic blunder. Why? We were in a 4-front war with insufficient troops.
    (2) You blithely rattle on about oh yes, let’s just “give one of our leftbacks a chance but with Tomas and Jan we will be well covered,” you are repeating and compounding the same mistake – assuming that there will be no injuries and that the backs are all interchangeable parts and yes, all is well in the state of Denmark. No, that is a recipe for, once again, being stretched tooooooo thin. Lanz, chronic repetition of a mantra and expecting a different outcome is by definition, a form of insanity. Don’t go that way. We need quality depth and quality starters and in enough numbers, to survive a season that, as you know, begins with an Asian tour as an add-on? This tour, in my view, was booked for business purposes — to open up a desired/necessary Asian line of business, to stoke a significant revenue stream from thereabouts. If (and I repeat IF) this means we’ve added on games, then there’s well, additional games to consider. If (after our extra CL re-qualification matches) we can/choose to re-enter a 4-front war, there will predictably be exhaustion. If the ref-shite thickens in the EPL march to the Rednose 20, there will be (mark me well) a host of non-calls that will do us hard – hence, some expectable injuries. Etc. So please, think conservatively, prudently, about expectable injuries, and don’t go on unconsciously about how “we’ll be just fine”. No, we need further targeted purchases of two-way committed defense men and to amass – as we should have in January – two-way quality depth – not, ‘oh let’s give the young boys a chance and, no worries, we’re well covered’. I do agree, as Stroller writes above, that “We need quality specialists in all positions.” However, I hold my breath when Stroller too-blithely says “and [we] can afford to get them if required.” Well, to you both, IF we can afford them – and there’s no way to really know, in advance, whether we can, or if we will spend even if we can – then we had better (by any means necessary) ensure quality depth at LB, and to withstand the tsunami of set-pieces to come, OR, mates, we will reap the predictable – I repeat, as in January, predictable – whirlwind to come.

  • bob

    @Lanz, speaking of insanity (mine), the above was a response to your posting. (I have a friend named Jan who thinks like you do, so I addressed by a fruitful mistake.)

  • RedGooner

    Stew, missed article one of Walters when Walter met TV back home in Belgium. I think if Stew had read that article he would know where Walter was comming from with his point of view.

  • bob

    Also I hope you consider this as a think-piece: If, indeed, we do lose Cesc and Nasri in addition to Clichy as you mention just above, then – in advance of that possible event – what would this trinity of departures signify to you about (1) the actual state of our current finances, and (2) the perceived desirability of our current soundness as a side?

  • Richard B

    @Walter – am I right in saying that Vertonghen is left footed? In Vermaelens first season it was commented on by Wenger what an advantage that is when a defender is distributing the ball out of defence on that side of the pitch. One of the players said that it was like having an extra midfielder when TV5 was in possession.
    In also reduces the chances of being required to tackle with the ‘wrong’ foot – something that these days concedes a free kick pretty well every time.

  • Dems

    Buy him, he can pair with Vermaelen at center, Sagna at right and Cissokho at Left !! not bad! no?

  • sahil

    @Richard B:Yes vertoghen is left footed.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    No-one else thinking we could go three across the back with Sagna as a wing back? For any other team in the league 3 CBs would be extremely defensive but when you consider all of our CBs aside from Squillaci are good enough to play DM for almost any other team in the league it makes more sense.

  • bob

    You don’t say: Arsene, do spend money on V. You do say: IF you want to spend money, spend it on V. Why be so careful about turning your perception into a request that he spend? Why not fully advocate for your man? And if not now, then when? From the comments, many do/would concur with your choice.

  • Knysna Gunner

    You can never win, can you? I ask you for your comments on Vertonghen and TV and when you comply, you get blasted by others. 🙂

    I maintain that those “demanding” that we sign Cahill and Samba are just following tabloid gossip. Really hope for Vertonghen. but as you say “who am I to say who we should buy or how we should resolve any problems we have? I leave it up to the people in the know”

  • bob

    Knysna Gunner,
    Your politeness is touching, but I find it troubling. You quote Walter to say “who am I to say we should….” But I ask, who are you NOT to say we should buy V. Come on, mate. We, by definition, are not in THE KNOW. We are not allowed to be in the know, for business reasons. Alright, so be it. But by your logic we should make no recommendations, because we are not in the know. This is not nitpicking abut words. If you really feel that, I must ask: what is going on here? Is there some line that we dare not cross where it’s too rash to actually make a recommendation? Or is it too rash to assume (as Gazidis, who is surely in the know, assured us), that Arsene does have money to purchase someone?

  • bob

    p.s. since we are not in the know, would you then say it is too rash to recommend that the FA or FIFA or UEFA adopt any number of anti-corruption measures starting with (or ending with) video replay? or do you just reserve silence – in the name of not being in the know – for some places and not others?

  • Anne

    These articles are completely different from just idle transfer gossip and speculation. The departure of Clichy raises a genuine question about how Arsenal is going to handle the LB position next season, which is certainly worth speculating about.

    Since Arsenal were willing to let Clichy go, I’m assuming that they have some sort of solution in mind. Whether that’s a new signing, or some sort of tactical change, I have no idea. But I find the analysis in these articles interesting, personally.

    So, Walter and Tony, you have my vote to keep it up if you’re counting them 🙂

  • Anne

    @Woolwich Peripatetic:

    “No-one else thinking we could go three across the back with Sagna as a wing back? For any other team in the league 3 CBs would be extremely defensive but when you consider all of our CBs aside from Squillaci are good enough to play DM for almost any other team in the league it makes more sense.”

    Interesting…I would be interested to hear you elaborate on this point, if you feel like it 🙂

  • bob

    Meanwhile, the AST’s own Tim Payton has a thoughtful analysis on our situation and its potentials in today’s Independent:

  • Matoo

    What if we shift Vermaelen to LB, and sign Vertonghen and Alderweireld? I doubt Ajax will sell both of their centre back pairing at the same time, but I think we’d be fantastically off having this trio in centre of defence.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    One of our defensive problems in open play has been two or more men in a four man defence getting too far upfield and a 3 vs 2 developing at the back. I find it interesting that when forced to defend, we’re actually pretty good.
    Now playing with three centre backs we would lose the width that the LB provides but the right sided CB would only have to shuffle sideways to cover Sagna’s upfield saunters. At which point the natural sweeper drops into the centre. We might also be able to tempt teams into unparking the bus by knocking the ball around at the back, only for someone like TV to deliver one of his raking diagonal passes to an onrushing TW14 perhaps?

  • Anne

    @Woolwich Peripatetic:

    Hm…So, who else would you have playing on the left? Up front and in midfield, I mean?

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    I totally agree with you Walter. I have seen the two V’s play together and they impressed me with their skills and understanding. I saw Ajax in the eredivise against Feyenoord(when Vermaelen was there) and they made a solid defensive pairing.
    the question is; would Vertonghen be available AND for how much?

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    With Cesc in the side a 3-3-1-3 as Bielsa IIRC tried.
    Without Cesc, a 3-4-3.
    The aim being to congest our left flank (most players being right footed) whilst opening up space on our right.

  • steww

    @redgooner – fair comment.

  • bob

    Domhuaille MacMathghamhna,
    I too think that V. would be a quality signing.
    But how much is “affordable” in your best estimation? up to what number? and on what would you base your definition of affordability?

  • Anne

    @Woolwich Peripatetic:

    “a 3-3-1-3 as Bielsa IIRC tried”

    I’m afraid you’ve lost me as far Bielsa IIRC are concerned 🙂

    As for congesting the left flank to open up space on the right, I think it’s an interesting idea. It’s one of those things that makes me wish that I was Arsene Wenger so I could try it out in practice and see what would happen 🙂

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Marco Bielsa is probably the most attacking coach in international football. Which is putting it mildly. He makes Ian Holloway look like Sam Allardyce. His Chile side generally plays three at the back, a holding midfielder and two wing backs, an advanced playmaker, an old school centre forward and two wing forwards. A few times when they’ve conceded the only player in their half has been their goalkeeper.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Slight mistake on my part, his proper name is Marcelo not Marco.

  • Kentetsu

    Thanks for these two articles, Walter. It’s a fresh breeze between all the transfer gossip to read an article about how to coope with the departure of Clichy. Pity he left, but I think Arsenal will manage without him.
    I stopped following the Dutch competition closely a few years ago, having always supported Ajax. So I have not seen Vertonghen play much, but take your word on it he might be a good addition. Recently e has made some comments about his future on Ajax TV (translated from Dutch):
    “I am focussed on Ajax.”
    “There is no reson to leave right now.”
    “I wanted to play in the Champions League and can do so at Ajax. We have a fantastic group and the atmosphere is perfect. If you doubt, then those things are decisive.”
    It looks like he’s happy at Ajax and does not feel any need to leave, but if a good opportunity comes up – say, playing at Arsenal with Vermaelen – he might say Ajax goodbye.

  • Anne

    @Woolwich Peripatetic:

    Oh, ok, the Chilean national coach. I guess I just didn’t pause long enough to decipher your acronym. It’s funny, I actually was closely watching the Chile-Mexico match in the Copa America last week, because I was so impressed with the way that Chile was playing. Now that you’ve made this comment, I’ll be watching their defense even more closely next time they play. Thanks 🙂

  • podge

    I would prefer a more attacking left back. The left side was always such a threat for us in great Wenger teams nowadays most of our attacks go down the right using Nasri’s dribbles or Walcotts pace Arshavin is lazy maybe Gervinho will take his place or maybe a rampaging left back who who spends more time running forward than Andrey might spur him on a bit. He should also be able to defend a bit Baines is the ideal player but at about half the asking price 20m for a left back is nuts

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    If you’re going to play Arshavin on the left then perhaps a very defensive left back is a better option.