Thomas Vermaelen continues to make a mockery of those who questioned the centre-half’s credentials during the summer when the defender moved from Ajax to Arsenal in a Â£10m acquisition. Not only is Vermaelen now the Gunners’ top scorer with four goals so far, but at the back the defender is proving solid, steadfast and reliable.
Pre-season, the biggest question mark against the Belgian was his lack of height. How, it was posed, will a guy smaller than six foot deal with the hustle and bustle of the burly strikers that pack out the Premier League. Against Wigan last Saturday, Vermaelen showed once again his secret weapon against this threat – his superb positional sense.
Shadowing Latics forward Hugo Rodallega, Vermaelen made sure that he snapped at the forward’s heels early on in the contest as the number five won a series of first half challenges to place the Wigan striker in his back pocket. Alert, whether on the floor or in the air, Vermaelen’s anticipation to close down threats was clearly evident early doors, and that set the tone for the rest of the match from an Arsenal defensive viewpoint.
With the defensive side of the in control, Vermaelen then went about expressing himself in more creative ways. His sweet left peg distributed several sensible passes out of defence, and then he let his heading ability do the talking as he crashed home a Van Persie corner after out-jumping two Wigan defenders in the first half.
If Vermaelenâ€™s first goal promised a new source of goals from set-plays, his second was more in keeping with the Emirates Stadium style manual: a forward foray, an exchange of passes with Emmanuel Eboue and a clever clipped finish with the left foot that left Chris Kirkland clawing at air.
Individual match highlights of Thomas Vermaelen’s performance against Wigan can be seen here.
While discussing Vermaelen, it seems apt to recall a brilliant effort of target from the Belgian which may have slipped under the radar during last week’s Champions League match at Standard Liege.
Once again showing his threat from set-plays, Vermaelen almost scored what would have been one of the goals of the season as the defender attempted an audacious backheel that was only stopped by a clearance on the line from a Liege defender.
Thomas Vermaelen’s skillful backheel shot can be seen here.