Was Vermaelen the wrong choice as captain?

We often hear the not too uncommon term ‘the captain should lead by example on the pitch’ when referring to football skippers.

The man who is given the armband is nine times out of ten the best player in the squad, and is one that can roll up his sleeves and inspire his teammates when the going gets tough.

With former leader Robin van Persie leaving Arsenal in the summer, Arsene Wenger was given the task of naming a new captain and vice-captain for the upcoming season.

Step forward Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta respectively.

The Belgian was seemingly many fans preferred choice having endured a brilliant start to his Gunners career, despite missing a lengthy spell of action through injury.

The centre-back was seemingly in the mould of a certain Tony Adams, leading from the back, wearing his heart on his sleeve, taking no prisoners and a massive hit was the supporters.

On the other hand, the Spaniard had only been at the Emirates Stadium for one season, but talks of a contract extension was enough evidence to prove that Arteta had enjoyed a fruitful first year in North London.

He still to this day hasn’t represented his national team, but Arteta performed well in any position asked of him last year, and often dropped back from his usual forward creative role to sit deep alongside Alex Song in the midfield three.

With hindsight, should the skipper choices have been the other way around?

Vermaelen hasn’t had the best year in 2012, with his form proving indifferent especially towards the end of the last campaign.

Be it Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker or the goalkeeper, Vermaelen has been bailed out on numerous occasions by his teammates, often after getting caught out wondering forward in attack.

And the 26-year-old’s game got off to an awful start yesterday, presenting Van Persie with the opening goal at Old Trafford after just three minutes.

His game got no better in the second half, and was beaten in the air by the significantly smaller Patrice Evra who headed home what proved the game’s decisive goal to double Manchester United’s lead.

He made a number of mistakes in the 2-1 defeat and in truth should be partly held to blame for the hosts deserving a larger winning margin, especially when Antonio Valencia should have found the back of the net in the second half.

With Andre Santos seemingly incapable of playing football, maybe Wenger would be wise in switching Vermaelen to left-back for the moment and drafting in Koscielny to slot in alongside Mertesacker.

It could certainly do Vermaelen no harm who has shown in the past that he is very competent as a full-back and is always keen to bomb forward and leave his defensive duties behind him.

In a period right now where the Gunners are putting in lacklustre and spineless displays, the last thing the players need is to be looking back at their captain failing to deal with a basic cross and gifting the lead to their opponents at such an early point in the game.

There is plenty of time for both the player and the club to bounce back from their latest defeat, but both will be hoping that they can do this sooner rather than later.

Matt Cotton

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4 Responses to Was Vermaelen the wrong choice as captain?

  1. bradkc@snakebite.com November 4, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Absolute must to have a change at left back. santos' performances have cemented gibbs as our no.1 left back and i would say his only realistic rival now is vermaelen. however there are quite a few other players at the club who have all played left back in the.past with arsenal or other teams jenkinson koscielny sagna coquelin meade and ormonde-ottewill. personally i would choose any of them over santos. if gibbs isnt fit for wednesday then bring in kos and switch tv5 to left back. personally i would have santos in the same taxi as squillaci in january along with fabianski arshavin and chamakh. if walcott is not to sign we will have to make it a 6 seater. if we can get takers for denilson park and bendtner on permanent deals then they have to be sold as well.

  2. gooner November 4, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Santos is to be sold immediately. Not only can he not defend, his attacking contributions are providing better service for the corner flags than the forwards.

    That said, what has happened to our central defenders? Per has been excellent ever since his mistake against Montpellier and showing why he is the best central defender in the world on form at the moment. What the bloody hell has happened to Koscielny, last season's best defender by a mile, and Vermaelen, the dependable Belgian and now our captain? Koscielny gave the game away against Chelsea and Vermaelen has been off boil for a few months now. Things are all going wrong but with top 4 only 2 points ahead, improvements are needed straight away and that's starting against Schalke. Another loss and we'll be well on course to drowning in our own sh!te

  3. WillyG November 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    I don't know about Vermaelen but I know Wenger is the WRONG choice as manager.

  4. k7793e5190ny@yahoo.com November 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    As we question Vermallen for the lapses, one cannot rule out attitude or effect of the club's transfer policy on the remaining players. Although RVP tried to show 'commitment' to the club after depaartures Nasri, Cesc, Clich; but his heart had virtually 'left' Arsenal!
    Just imagine Arsenal selling RVP & Song (clearly the club's best last season) without equivalent replacement, and you think the remaining players remained settled? Am sure Arsene would struggle to extend contracts of players like TV5, wilshere, Carzola, Arteta etc if he were to do it now. The reason most recent players left the club was LACK OF AMBITION at the club, full stop!!!!!!!!!!
    Let's face it, very few class players like being associated with average clubs!

    Lack of bite in the firnal third of the team tends to leave pressure to the midfielders and eventually defenders. Teams could deploy 2 or 3 defenders to keep RVP out of the game, but with Giroud, one defender is normally sufficient to do the job.

    God save us from a greedy Board and Arsene, who is ever defending the board. Amen

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