A Case For The Defence… As The Vermaelen Story Hots Up…

Evening All.

Today is the day I make a case for the defence. The defence, which, in reality has been the problem area for Arsenal this season. With William Gallas having been stripped of the captaincy mid season and Kolo also struggling for form, we’ve seen the remarkable Johan Djourou come through the ranks. The Swiss International, actually heading the charts as our overall best defender.

As the stats were released on the Arsenal website yesterday, it’s official, he was our best defender in 2008/2009.

Although Silvestre was actually the best tackler, when you all the stats together, you’d see that Djourou had a high level – in fact, his tackling success rate was 92% and his pass completion rate was 78% (highest out of all the defenders). With him being the youngest out of the four central defenders – it’a a very promising situation we find ourselves in – but of course, Gallas and Silvestre are both 31 years of age – so surely one of them can’t be considered first choice – and the reserve player will most probably be Silvestre – who although had 100% tackle rate – is too slow to be in the premiership nowadays.

Which brings me onto the case for the defence and the genuine possibility that we may be closing to signing Thomas Vermaelen.

The story broke last week and there was / has been no evidence backing the claim – but in the last few days, I’ve received information through the editor of the website which broke the story explaining that it has come from a very reliable source. Having dug round the story, news in Belgium confirms that we’ve been negotiating for the Ajax skipper.

Setanta reports:

Arsenal have secured a €13 million (£11.4 million) deal for Ajax captain Thomas Vermaelen, according to reports in his native Belgium. Arsene Wenger has been chasing the 23-year-old as he looks to strengthen his defensive options and has apparently now agreed a transfer fee with Ajax. Het Laatste Nieuws reports that the two clubs reached an agreement on Saturday and that Vermaelen is now close to signing a four-year contract with The Gunners. If the deal is confirmed then the defender will become the second most expensive Belgian player of all time, with Everton’s €20 million deal for Marouane Fellaini still the benchmark.

If we were to sign the Belgium stopper, who / how would he integrate into the team?

Would he partner Toure or Gallas? Or would he partner Djourou? What will happen if one of central defenders is dropped – how will they react? Both Gallas and Toure have been close the exit door this season – so will it be one in one out?

Stay tuned, something may break today or tomorrow.!

  • AJ

    I reckon if we sign him, he will partner Toure in the heart of the defence because 1) Gallas is getting on a bit, in his 30s 2)Isn’t that well liked within the squad 3)After being stripped of the captincy and stating he is going to run down his contract he doesn’t seem like wanting to stay 4)I reckon Wenger would rather keep Toure than Gallas. As for one in one out, I’m not too sure, if Gallas was to leave this summer I think we would be in for another defender, purely because Wenger wants to build on the squad, not just replace someone, but who knows what will happen.

  • Pete

    Intersting hearing what Tony Adams said about this:

    “I think Thomas is a very good player but I don’t think he’s ready for the Arsenal,” Adams told Setanta.

    “I don’t think the punters at Arsenal would like another small one.

    “I don’t know whether he’ll [Arsene Wenger] end up going for a bigger player. We’ll see how much money we’ve got first.”

  • Arsefan101

    From a pure footballing point of view, I’d say that Gallas is the better defender – since he lost the captaincy, he’s been outstanding. So I’d like to see Vermaelen and Gallas at the back… which leads me onto the never ending debate that is… Toure for defensive midfield?

  • devday

    I’ve just received information that the Vermaelen deal is quite close. In fact, we have agreed a fee with Ajax, but the player has rejected an initial contract offer.

    To be honest, I didn’t think this transfer was a goer, but it looks like it is now!!

  • Pete

    Got to say I’m quite surprised to hear it’s at that stage with Thomas Vermaelen. Unless there’s the possibility of buying more than one defender?

  • Berth

    But the lad is only 5-11 in height, is that what we really need now? I have been searching and asking of a defender of that height or lesser height in Europe and have discovered quiet a few that are regarded highly – Cannavaro, Cordoba and KoloToure – The question still remains whether the lad is that good for premiership?

  • devday

    Just got off a very long phone call with a guy in the know and apparently we’re looking at bringing two defenders – potentially Gallas and Silvestre may both be on their way out. One of them will definitely go and due to wages it may be Gallas.

  • Pete

    Any idea who the other defender might be Dev?

  • devday

    Not sure of who the other one is, could be either Chellini or Zapata – but also depends on who’s in and out. I am speculating a little here.



    am I the only person who realises how multi skilled toure is? I like both toure and gallas and wouldnt want to see either leave, i think toure would be an awesome DM as having played at CB he would keep his defensive mindset…also hes one the few players who can take a crack at goal from 25-30 yrds out

  • Gooner Get Ya

    Don’t forget that Toure could also cover the RB position. I would prefer it was Gallas that was shown the door…although he is the better defender but not could team player.

  • AJ

    I agree with you Conman, Toure can play in a number of roles and its extreamly good to have a versatile player like that. Yet this season Gallas has been the better defender, yet if I had to choose I would keep Toure out of the two, I think Gallas’ ego and the things he said in his biography just aren’t good for the team, to have a split like that. As for Chielleni or Zapata, both very good defenders, Zapata has the height that we’re lacking, he’s 6ft 1 I think, whereas Chiellene isn’t as tall, but is alot more expierenced I think.

    As for Vermaelen, I agree with Tony Adams, is he ready for the premier league? If the stories are true about the fee being agreed then obviously Wenger thinks he does, just hope if we sign him he won’t take long to settle in.

  • Arsefan101

    Just imagine:

    Sagna – Gallas – Vermelean – Clichy
    Walcott – Toure – Cesc – Arshavin
    Van Persie – Eduardo

    Wouldn’t that be an awesome team?

    Toure could play RB, LB, CB, DM, RM, LM… so basically is an awesome player to have + he loves Arsenal!!!

  • Fo

    It’s quite exciting – we may have a signing secured very soon! He does look good and even though is only 6 foot, he has very good jump!

  • Fabrez

    I’d have Toure over Gallas anyday. I do rate Gallas but he’s caused problems in our dressing room and I’d rather keep Kolo who gives everything for Arsenal. He’s a real Mr. Arsenal. As for Kolo playing DM, I believe Arsene said he doesn’t have the stamina for that role… I think he’s got all the other qualities but if he gets too tired too quick, that’s a problem. So I won’t look at him as a DM even though I think he has certain qualities that would be good for that position.

    Djourou deserves credit. He’s been our 3rd choice for a while and when he did play…before Toure at times early in the season, he did well. Credit to the guy. I’m thinking we’ll need him a lot more nxt season for his height…he could become a regular starter.

    Like most ppl, I wry about Vermaelen’s height…an inch shorter than Gallas and Toure…and he’s only 23…from another league…hmm… Not the kinda experience I was hoping for but I trust AW if he’s really gone for this guy. He may just be immense for us!

  • Yemi

    I would fancy toure in DM, he makes runs forward even as a CB, he has a long range shot and he is MR Arsenal. the CB should be should be left for gallas, djourou and Vermaelen.

  • Yemi

    Saw this on Vermaelen and other transfer speculations for arsenal on setanta. Check out the link.