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July 2021

Vermaelen: Arsenal’s new captain, or not?

By Walter Broeckx

Moving away from the man who was our captain last year to the man who was  our vice captain last year – and the man who could be our captain next season: Thomas Vermaelen.

Let us start right away with the remarks he got when we bought him – the same remarks as were directed at Koscielny, and not many of those were good. But like with Koscielny he managed to overturn the sceptics’ thoughts about him.

Vermaelen has been at Arsenal for 3 seasons now but only played in 2 seasons. The one in between was almost completely lost after getting injured when playing for Belgium. Being put on the field while playing for Belgium despite the injury and then finding himself out for the whole season after suffering a world record of setbacks before they finally discovered what was wrong was one of the most depressing aspects of that year. I do feel that a lot of doctors didn’t cover themselves with glory in those days.

In the two seasons he has played so far he has managed to start in 33 and 28 of those games. He got a little injury in the last season but this time the doctors knew what was wrong and he was back very quickly.

His end of season form wasn’t the best however. But just as with Szczesny later it was made public that they both played with an injury, could hardly train and were made fit to play each game.

In fact the story of Vermaelen being  injured was only discovered in Belgium when he came to Brussels for a few friendly internationals and he was unable to play in the first because of his injury.

So he was brave enough to play even with an injury for Arsenal. Something that shows that he is willing to give it all for our club. And I know I am not from the gutter press, but his dip in form at the end of the season might have something to do with some personal problems in his personal live at the time. I just mention it because, well we all know such things can have an influence on a player his performances. Mostly a negative influence.

Leaving the defensive side for later I must start with his offensive power. In the two seasons he could really play he scored in total 14 goals. And we are talking about a central defender. I think most midfielders would be happy with such a return.

So it is obvious Vermaelen is a defender that can score. He has scored with headers from corners. He has scored with a few shots from distance that impressed.  And maybe his best goal was the ugliest one: the bundle it over the line against Newcastle. After having run the whole length of the pitch in the 94th minute starting from his own penalty area and then pushing the ball over the line from 6 yards out.

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So most people don’t mind his forward runs too much and hope that he can score a few. But this is also is Achilles heel a bit. Or better said Arsenal their Achilles heel. The rest of the team has to keep their eyes open and one player has to sacrifice himself and drop back a bit. We can say that on occasion and in some games with some important players missing in midfield (ah just say it was Arteta missing) we got caught.

Yes we could blame  Vermaelen for this and when we are 1-0 in the 90th minute I would urge him to stay back. I’m sure these are things that will have been said by  now and I hope that he will time his runs a bit and that also the rest of the team has the brains to drop back a bit when he tries to support our attack.

Some have said that Vermaelen could be a great defensive midfielder because he has good technical skills and can pass the ball around and has a good long ball in his feet. I don’t know if he has the needed tactical skill to play that role to be honest. Because if he then runs forward … we could have nobody to cover the back line any more. I think this is the reason why Wenger doesn’t go for the suggestion that most of us have made when in the pub or in the train or in the car on our way to the game, or back home.

Not being the tallest can sometimes by a problem when playing a very very big centre forward but with good timing and technique Vermaelen is able to work away the handicap of not being the biggest person on the field. And besides many great centre backs are just as big as Vermaelen.  Being clever in defence can help a lot.

For next season? Well  with obviously a new captain to be chosen for next season (I really cannot imagine RVP being captain even if Arsenal would hold him for the final year of his contract) the chance of Vermaelen to become captain will increase.

He was captain of Ajax at a very young age. He was captain of the Belgium national team at a very young age and only lost the captaincy because he was out of the team for a year with his injury. In an interview he said this summer that he still was very unhappy about losing the captaincy after having played with an injury for Belgium and then on his return to find out that Kompany had been given the armband and was going to keep it. So he enjoys and wants the responsibility of being a captain.

And despite being a very calm and quiet person outside the football field when you meet him in person (did I ever mention I have met him in person? Oh well I think I did) he is a person that will not let other people run him over. It is something that he has learned from leaving home at a very young age and going to Amsterdam and live amongst the Dutch who are very loud and like to talk until they drive you mad. [May I point out here that the author of this article comes from the Flemish speaking part of Belgium? – Tony]  He had to adapt and talk louder to become accepted. So getting the captaincy at Ajax was a sign of his character.

Will he be promoted to being captain? Will he be asked to be the captain? And will he accept it? I think this depends how Wenger is seeing the central defence for next season. Does Wenger want to use his central defenders as much as possible and rotate them as much it is rather unlikely that one of them (Vermaelen in this case) will play all the games.  Usually a captain is certain of his starting place and well with the rotation it could mean that we would have different captains.  So maybe Wenger will go for another player. One that he expects to play almost every game.

But if Wenger asks Vermaelen to be the next captain I think he would be very honoured to take on that task. The only hope is that, well, we know what happened to our last captains…..

But whatever happens to him I just want to make sure that I don’t think Vermaelen will ever do what Van Persie has done. Vermaelen will say what he thinks but he will say it in private. He will not go out with such statements in public. And if he would do this I will certainly speak with his parents. I have met them (his mother is a really very friendly woman) and talked with them.

But I really do think that Vermaelen is still a very down to earth young man. I know where they live in that little town near Antwerp and their home is nothing special at all. Just the home where boys grow up, dream of becoming a professional football player and then for very few of the dreams comes true. And they end up at Arsenal… and maybe they become club captain of such a big club.

I don’t know how his little town will honour him if he becomes captain of Arsenal… They gave him the “Gulden Garve” already last year (when I met him, you know)… they will have to invent a new special prize and ceremony I think.  And I, well I could then say that I have met the captain of Arsenal in person and I have his signed shirt lying in my bedroom.

Blimey, I’m a blessed person….


38 comments to Vermaelen: Arsenal’s new captain, or not?

  • Yiannis

    You left nothing to the manager…

  • JSP2303

    Of course he will be made captain………because in a year’s time he’ll have his head turned by Barcelona’s constant tapping up and leave, as per our last 4 or 5 captains!!
    Where is our Tony Adams figure, our new Mr Arsenal????

    Please Mr Wenger don’t bribe players with the captaincy, it makes a mockery of such an important job, and belittles the efforts the past, great captains have made to the club.

  • Justus

    Vermaelen would make an excellent captain. The problem is…………..he is then guaranteed to leave, just like the rest of our captains!

  • “So maybe Wenger will go for another player. One that he expects to play almost every game.”

    As regards the above 2nd sentence, other than Sir Robin, few actually ‘fit the bill’ of expecting to play almost every game (Sagna, Wilshere perhaps, when fit). However, Vermaelen would, arguably, be the first name on Wenger’s team sheet, whenever available.
    Coupled with captain’s experience at Ajax, he’s the very obvious choice, in my opinion. Arteta would be my second-choice, experienced and level-headed.

    Excellent post, Walter. Big thanks.

  • Why 4 pete’s sake are u jumping the gun? Why can’t people read in between the lines? Rvp is probably trying to expose the merchants of venice sitting as the board for the lack of ambition to win trophies but the knack to make money selling star players. I believe rvp really wants arsenal to show ambition and not to force a move.

  • Phil

    please no give it to someone like jenkinson cuase every time we give to somethet leave

  • eliphas.

    I think RVP or whatever the fool is called has let everyone connect with AFC down.
    Shame on him for thinking he’s the best ever to grace AFC…He’s dutch by the way,violent as usual.
    He has to thank AFC for being patient with his Plastic cursed legs…He can ask Adebayor the dangers of moving to Man City.A slight decline in form,out!!!!
    He can go to Hell for thinking he’s big.I pray that he gets a career ending Injury for betraying my AFC.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    So Walter, if Vermaelen even thinks about going to Barca, you’ll be round his parents place to have ‘words’ then?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Woolwich Peripatetic,
    I would then start a protest march on my own in front of his parents house 😉 That would stop him I guess… LOL

  • nobody know whats going to happen to our next captain but at the moment he’s the best choice ! he has a habbit of abandoning his fort to help the attack and land us in trouble so maybe by giving the captaincy to him will also make him more aware of his responsibility !

  • James morgan

    Don’t be surprised vermallen wants to go at the end of 2013 season especially if the gunners aint able to mount a challenge on the trphy trail due to Wenger’s philosophy. This won’t surprise me and many other fans.
    Wenger is deluded if he thinks changes need not be made to the tactics,especially.If the gunners can’t see through a two goal lead,the buck stops with him.He shd pay pay the price like other managers .

  • Byron

    If I may throw a name out there that I think has leadership Qualities it Arteta. He wont be leaving any time soon but he is fairly new to Arsenal and isnt a guaranteed Started. Same for Rosicky

  • Mark C

    He has to be made captain, in my eyes he is more of a captain than Van Persie is. all we have to do is tie him down to a new 5 year deal.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    @Mark C,
    We did tie him down to a new deal. We also had Cesc on a long term deal…

    Arteta is a guaranteed starter, we won only one league game without him in the side last year and that was the last one! I’d say he’s more of a guaranteed starter than TV5, who basically gets to rotate with Per Mertesacker as the partner to “that Arsenal boy who’s pretty good” (Copyright Vicente del Bosque 2012).

  • ” whatever happens to him I just want to make sure that I don’t think Vermaelen will ever do what Van Persie has done ”

    Really ! Are you series ?

    Players the can kiss badge or they can talk nice words in the arsenal video as much as they want but my trust on any player has gone far and there is no returning back on that. That is for sure.
    Disloyalty It is a big chunk of the modern football.You pay high I stay you dont bye.
    But still football is football and the loyal fans we take the players are in the same boat with us.Loyalty is only for fans.
    Anyone who is involved with money with a club he/she is obliged to talk nice till their share will mature and someone pays handsomely.
    I dont understand why some guys defend the American and others dislike the Russian/Uzbek.

    The so called old guards they didn`t sell thir share for peanuts to the american.Absolutely they make good profit and i do not believe for one minute they sold their assets for sake of arsenal to the American guy.Facts speak for themselves.Kronkie is been assured that is not going to put one penny extra from his pocket as Wenger is there to do the deals.Buying unkown players and selling them at hefty prices is Wenger trademark after all.So to paint him as angel and demonise the other it does not give any sense to me.
    Looking at Abramovich no one can question his determination.We have seen him travelling all over the places to follow his team.Biting his nails like a little kid in front of the whole world.In contrast where is St. Stan ?I dont think he knows any player name ecxept to ask ho w much is sold.
    In that i dont mean that Usmanov is an angel.To my understanding they are there to make money and there is nothing wrong in that.
    To keep this club where it is now is the job of the great ARSENE WENGER.

  • alex

    ” whatever happens to him I just want to make sure that I don’t think Vermaelen will ever do what Van Persie has done ”

    Really ! Are you series ?

    Players the can kiss badge or they can talk nice words in the arsenal video as much as they want but my trust on any player has gone far and there is no returning back on that. That is for sure.
    Disloyalty It is a big chunk of the modern football.You pay high I stay you dont bye.
    Loyalty is only for fans.

  • Steady Teddy

    No one is talking of Songhinho. Here longer than anyone else and plays more games, never injured and level headed. Oh I forgot he’s African. Shame on y’all

  • alex

    Sorry for the duplication. I could not retrieve it.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Wait a minute Steady Teddy,
    I have started from the keeper and will end up with the striker.
    The problem to make Song captain is… he has only 2 years left on his contract so would be in the same position as RVP next summer AND he is in the hands of a certain manager with the name Dein. So that sure doesn’t look good at all….

  • sexy fernandez

    Irrespective of how things turn out, RVP has already proved 2 us dat he is not worthy 2 be called D leader of a team. So whether we sell him, or keep him 4 D remainder of his contract or even if he has a change of heart and signs a new contract, RVP shuld neva be D captain again. I vote TV5 as our captain 4 d coming season.

  • Shard

    Vermalen will probably be captain, or he wouldn’t have been made Vice Captain last year. Arteta, and Sagna would be my other choices, but Arteta only joined last summer, and Sagna isn’t fit for the start of the season. Both of them to be Vice Captains.

  • Dec

    Why not look at the specific qualities required to be an effective captain? He needs to be dependable, commited, respected by those around him, confident, articulate, intelligent, not afraid to bawl out senior players when necessary (I recall a 17 year old kid called Adams shouting his head off at David O’Leary). It’s not obligatory for him to play EVERY game (who does these days?) To be playing in MOST games is sufficient, he’ll be captain off the pithch as well remember. Above all he needs to be sensible.
    Several Arsenal players have most of these qualities in my view. Arteta, Song, Kos all warrant consideration but lack assertiveness. By a country mile, TV5 should be captain of Arsenal, even if RVP were to stay,I’d prefer Thomas. He has all of the above in spades ands Arsenal are a much better team when he’s on the pitch. A bit like having a grown-up among a bunch of kids.

    My able lieutenant to Capt. Vermaelen would be Wojciech Szczesny, age has little to do with it, being a goalkeeper is no hinderance, he matches so many of the qualities above he’d also prove a worthy skipper.

  • Mandy Dodd

    He certainly gets my vote, guess vp would need a gargantuan climb down to keep this honour, even assuming nobody else is willing to take what will amount to a £70 million gamble….sorry investment on him.
    Bac and Arteta as vice captains?

  • Ebouefan

    I trust Vermaelen more than anyone in their of leadership skill. I know it because I have some in me.

  • nicky

    Quite right. Unless there are exceptional circumstances the Vice Captain should step up.
    In Vermaelen’s case, he should have succeeded Fabregas,IMO.
    Nothing against Van Persie but a striker should never be made Captain. The position requires someone seeing the whole field of play ahead of him. That is why Arsenal were blessed in having legendary Captains like Eddie Hapgood and Tony Adams, both members of the back division.
    Vermaelen looks and is a fighter,a no-nonsense defender and a leader. Arsene Wenger should look no further and confirm him as Captain.

  • maturks

    Wilshere should be our Captain. Arsenal through and through; English. Has no where to go. Adams was 19 when he became Captain so Wilshere at 20 can do it but won’t because Arsene always prefer foreign players who eventually leave the club.

    TV will leave the club as Barca is already making noises about him.

  • Pad Gooner

    Nice post Walter, covers everything. Vermaelen being vice captain, he could become a natural choice for captaincy.

  • Ong Bing

    Nice post Walter.

    If you looking for player that will play all season, that must be GK no 1.

    I am not worry our captain will go to another club, as long as the price is good. We still need a lot of money to pay debt.

  • Johan Greening

    One thing we should think about is how players think regarding the situation of other players leaving and tie it in withn a normal employment situation.

    How many of you have worked for a company where you have had a core team with a good line boss then things start to change where higher up bosses and owners/sharholders do things different( and not always for the best) and your fellow employees leave to go to better things and you start to feel like you should leave too as it is not the same.

    This I feel is happening at Arsenal and I would not be at all suprised if Vermaelen, Whilshire, Walcott, Sagna all leave in the next 2 years.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I know I have the worst spelling on the planet but whilshire! Come on !

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Boy what an eclectic batch of posts Walter….from the true-blue AAA’s to the people who actually read the article. Those who maintain that naming Vermaelen as captain would mean he will leave the following year are idiots! There is no connection between being named captain and automatically leaving for greener pastures. How about those who left (the vast majority of departures) and weren’t captains or even vice-captains? Maybe the moon was full when they were born or perhaps the earth’s magnetic field varied by 1% where they were living thus making them leave AFC?
    I believe that Vermaelen would be a superb captain and that the two new signings, Podolski and Giroud, will eventually become candidates as well. Podolski is a real leader, and Giroud seems to be. We now have 5-7 real leaders (Arteta, Song Szcesny,Podolski, Vermaelen,the Ox and Wilshwere) at AFC and that can only be a good thing.

  • Damien Luu

    @Dom: “Those who maintain that naming Vermaelen as captain would mean he will leave the following year are idiots!” – You are God damn right, they are God damn idiots 😀

    And I’m very happy to see the Usmanov-balloon-eaters are still alive. Boy, they eat them real hard 😉

  • ARSENAL 13

    for captaincy we have a few candidates… Wilshere, Sagna, Vermaelen, Arteta, Szczesny and Ramsey. We need the ones who can carry the ARSENAL badge on their hearts on and off the pitch. At present I can see only two of them capable of doing it…..Wilshere and Ramsey.

    AND coming back to RVP.

    What if we release him. He will be a free agent. Will he be in a position to demand the astronomical salary (lets say at MAN CITY) as he can now. I dont think so. Though it would be un-Arsenal to do it. I think we should make an example out of RVP.

  • tinalex

    This is not related to the article but would like to alert like minded fans to the existence of some poll on where fans are being asked to vote ye/no to the question “do you think Usmanov should be given a seat on the board?”. Current the yes vote is leading at 96% percent although only handful of people (50) have voted. I would urge fans to go and vote “NO” at the poll so that we do not end up with unrepresentative poll results being used to further distablize the club.

    Thank you

  • Arsenal1Again

    Sorry, I just can’t see beyond Jack Wilshere as Arsenal Captain. By this I mean REAL hands on captaincy where players fear to go back to the dressing room if they’ve been underperforming on the pitch.

    The character of Wilshere is spot on perfect for captaincy. We’ve had Cesc who did nothing, we’ve had Van Persie who has done nothing, we’ve had Gallas who tried emulating his captain at Chelsea, Marcel Desailly, and failed by appearing a bully. I haven’t seen Vermaelen barking at team-mates to date, something you don’t have to be a captain to do – but Wilshere, oh no, this is a man who can’t tolerate less than 100% and who isn’t shy about being vocal when he see’s anything less.

  • Ben

    Just found this video and thought I would like to share with all!:)…-chinese-warrior

  • Goona Gal

    @ Walter, I didn’t realise that you already put the case forward for Tommy V. I think that the captaincy should go to Arteta now as we need stability and maturity. Vermaelen is not an automatic starter for me at the moment and AW needs to be able to drop him. At times I think he got

    I was even thinking of Rosicky being given the band for one of our cup assaults.

  • Pls I want thomas rosicky to captain the new arsenal football team if rvp should go tnx