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By Walter Broeckx
Introduction by myself : this is the translated version of an interview that appeared in Gazet Van Antwerpen on 11/02/2012. Some media have tried to pull some words out of its context. So this is an attempt to find out what he really said and what the media is trying to make of it. My own words are in this lay out. The questions from the reporter are in bold. The words from Vermaelen are in the normal print.
GVA: Things are going fine with TV. After a long period with injuries he is once again a certainty in the back line of the London top club Arsenal. But still not all is completely right.
Arsenal is having a season of ups and downs?
TV: We had a difficult start if you only look at the results.
A few strong players left the club and we felt it. We had to look for a new kind of stability. The new players had to adapt at the system and at their new teammates and then we had already played 3 games. The arrival of Arteta was instrumental for us. He can keep the ball en is great in coaching the other players. We needed someone like him.
After that things became better?
Yes, we stayed undefeated some 10 games. In January we had a lot of bad luck. We lost games we should have won en we have lost some valuable points.
Manager Wenger also got a part of criticism?
ONLY FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD. All the players stood and still stand completely behind the manager. But this is how things go when things don’t go your way. It’s always first the manager that stands in the line of fire.
When he took off Oxlade-Chamberlain against Utd en shortly after Arshavin was involved in the Utd goal the Arsenal fans were furious?
It isn’t nice of course not for the players or the manager but one has to see it in perspective, after all it was only a small part of the fans that reacted like that.
Last weekend a comfortable win against Blackburn Rovers and it should have been 8-1 if you would have scored?
A shame that I hit the post. I have made 3 goals so far this season. In my first season I scored 8 goals but it is not really a habit for me.
This weekend Sunderland awaits and you have to get past Mignolet to get the 3 points?
Yes we have to. I think it’s great but I don’t see them very much. Dembele lives in London but in the south and that is still a bit far away from where I live. I sometimes hear Kompany. I don’t see Fellaine that much or hear from him.
You have been injured for a while last season and also this season. Are you back at your old level?
I feel great and play like that. But because our left backs (Santos and Gibbs) are out injured I had to play as left back in the last weeks. I think that is unfortunate but there is nothing that I can change about that.
Did you talk about it with Wenger?
Yes, but what is said between us stays between us. Everybody knows playing left back is not my preferred position.
Why do you think that despite all this you after all are a good left back?
I don’t think I am a bad left back. I do my job over there. BUT I AM NEVER REALLY COMPLETEY SATISFIED WITH MYSELF AFTER PLAYING THERE. I WANT TO GET MY HIGHEST LEVEL IN EACH GAME AND I DON’T HAVE THIS AS A LEFT BACK. When the team wins I’m happy, but still it is a bit frustrating.
Why are you so much better as a central defender than as a left back?
Tell me why does a striker performs better in attack than in midfield? I’m just trained as a central defender.
With the Red Devils (Belgian national team) you also end up at left back most of the time?
Most of the time? Always you might say. What can I say about that. It is like it is. I still hope that I will have my chance of playing in the centre, also because this is my best position at my club.
But not for now?
You can’t think like that. Everybody knows that I have been put there as left back because we had no other left backs available.
You don’t intend to train to become a left back?
I cannot train to this position. I don’t really have to adapt myself and have to change myself as a footballer because I have played a few games at left back. Central in the defence is my best position so I just keep focussed on that position.
Did you become a stronger football in all those years?
Physically not but I have always managed to raise my level and performances both at Ajax and in Arsenal. But not with the national team.
Because I have never had the chance to play at my best position in the national team.
Then the interview goes on about the national team and I have left this out as it has no real meaning for us Arsenal supporters.
You now are in your third season at Arsenal, do you feel a Londoner?
A real Londoner is maybe said too much. If you play football in England, London is the best place to be. This is the most lively city where you always can find something to do. And I live rather near to the centre in Hampstead.
Do you curse in English?
Yes, this is one of the first things you learn. But I will not tell you the words I have learned.
Do you visit Belgium a lot?
No, I hardly find the time to go there because of the many games we have to play. Only when the national team plays I come home.
Do you miss home?
I live abroad since I was 15 so I am used to it. The first half year in Amsterdam was hard and then I wanted to go home as much as possible. But now I am used to it and don’t feel the urge to go home any more.
Finally the last question: when is the Arsenal season a failure?
If we end outside the top 4. It is very important for the club to get that CL spot. We cannot be happy without getting that.
So this is it. If you ask me it can be said that Vermaelen prefers to play central in defence. But if the team (and this goes for Arsenal and the Red Devils) needs him in another position he will do this. He isn’t happy about it but mostly because he never feels completely satisfied with his own performances at left back.
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