Vermaelen’s Place in Jeopardy

Thomas Vermaelen’s outstanding first season at Arsenal has left most of us assuming that he will be an automatic starter when he recovers from his achilles injury.

But maybe it’s time to reconsider that assumption.

In his absence, Squillacci and Koscielny are starting to form a partnership with a real air of quality to it.

The Squid (or Squidgy, Squelchy or Squilly if you prefer – notice how he has already been given a bunch of affectionate nicknames by the Gooner faithful) has started to display a calm authority as the ‘big man’ in our central defence. His positioning, strength and ability in the air are all commendable.

Kozzer meanwhile (note, too, his instant nickname) has been my man of the match in our last two games, barely putting a foot wrong. He tackles beautifully when he needs to, but is also expert at shepherding opponents away from the danger area without diving in. Contrast his handling of a tricky runner with Alex “Tom Daley” Song.

After three clean sheets on the bounce (admittedly involving Djourou as well as Koscielny and Squillaci) you have to wonder whether a fit Vermaelen would get his place back in our starting line-up. Right now I don’t think he would.

Yes, Kozzer made some costly mistakes in his first few games (being barged off the ball by El Hadji Diouf and missing a sitter of a header from two yards out against Chelsea spring to mind).

But it always takes time to adjust to a new league and the EPL is less forgiving than most, with its non-stop physical battles week-in, week-out.

We could hardly have expected him to hit top form the moment he started playing in a new country with new team mates.

And likewise I know many felt the jury was out on Squillaci in the first part of the season. But both are settling in to Arsenal and England and are helping to put to bed the daft myth that Arsene Wenger can’t buy defenders (Grimandi, Campbell, Toure, Gallas, Lauren, Sagna, Clichy, Vermaelen, Squidgy and Kozzer all give the lie to that one).

No doubt the idea of TV5 having to wait in line behind the two newbies sounds like heresy to many.

We have all come to love Thomas’s total commitment to the cause, his bravery and determination, his willingness to attack dangerous situations before they get us into trouble.

But his tendency to get dragged up the pitch also cost us dearly on several occasions last season, leading directly to at least three goals I can think of.

This, coupled with the simple argument that you should not drop players when they’re in form, means he may have to warm the bench for a while when he finally gets back.

It will be a wonderful problem for Arsène to have: three outstanding centre backs all raring to go with a fourth, in Djourou, who will also come good the more playing time he gets.

Anyway, with the number of games we play and the fact that our injury record is of the long-playing variety, I’m sure TV will be back in the first eleven not long after he recovers fitness. It’s just that it won’t be the automatic step it might have been a few weeks ago.


146 Responses to Vermaelen’s Place in Jeopardy

  1. Neamman says:

    Good article. If all the defenders reach peak fitness and top form, I actually think there is a case to be made for Vermaelen and Djourou as our best pairing. But as long as we are still in 4 competitions each of the 4 should get plenty of playing time if you allow for the inevitable injuries and bookings.

  2. charybdis1966 says:

    Morning all.
    What R Lives says is one of the principles of team selection I always thought Wenger would adhere to, i.e. a meritocracy where players are only dropped for being off form not because a player returning from injury is “first choice.”
    All other things being equal if someone takes advantage of a starting place being up for grabs due to injury to an assumed starter then if they do well they should keep their place.
    However with the number of games we have and the obligatory round of injuries we inevitably get I don’t think we’ll be in that luxurious position often.

  3. The BearMan says:

    Come on, lets talk football, and stop reading the spead sheets.

    Vermaelen have nothing to worry about, it must be a comforting for him to see his understudies raising their game, but they all will have to move aside on his return.

    I want to see Vermaelen return, when he is full fit, much like Bendtner and not before. The second faze of the season is always much tougher and we need him at his best then. Fully rested, completely fit and ready to do battle.

  4. Ziggy says:

    Vermaelen used to play in midfield in the past and he may still turn into a defensive midfield back up for Song we have been looking for.

  5. GunnerPete says:

    No its not…….Kossy is so good he can play alongside Song an provide us with the best defensive setup we have had for nearly six years.

  6. Rasp says:


    Interesting post Rocky, I reckon that thought had crossed the minds of many supporters. TV, Kozzer and JD can all play a midfield role and I’d like to see one of the first two tried in that position at some stage. I am inclined to think that Arsène’s vision of TV and kozzer as his No.1 CB pairing will eventually come to fruition, but Squillaci has been a very important signing and his concentration on ‘defending first’ should be an example to the others.

  7. Harry says:

    I’m not sure about this article.
    Squillaci has started well and I think Koscielny is the better of the two. Djourou has lost pace since his injury but i think that the best pairing is Koscielny and Vermalen because if you remember, the mistake against Anelka that Squillaci made and I do not think that he is fast enough. 3rd choice definately.

  8. calhoon says:

    personally, i prefer the Kosh to Kozzer- as in ‘under the Kosh”…

  9. kelsey says:

    Vermaelen is a must, captain of his country and a natural leader in defence.
    However there are mixed messages coming out about his achilles injury,which was only meant to be for 2 weeks and it has been prolonged too long for my liking.

  10. Red Arse says:

    Hi Rocky,

    Good write up and a take that is bound to generate a lot of debate! 🙂

    Ziggy and Gunner Pete have beaten me to it, but in the hypothetical scenario you envisage, there are alternative outcomes.

    ** When TV is fit, any injury to Squidge or Kozzer, solves the problem.

    ** Arsene may/will mix and match his available resources, including Djourou, to meet particular opposition.

    ** TV has undoubted flair with a tremendous eye for goal, and may go back to midfield, where he played for Ajax.

    ** TV may fill in the left back position in the event of injury to Clichy, while Gibbs is out injured.

    I could go on but you get my drift. A nice selection headache for Arsene, as you say.

  11. Ibrahim says:

    It nice too see fans trust all our defenders. But Vermalaen is no.1 and I think he will pair “Squelchy” as first option in diffuclt games .. if both are fit of course … good substitute is a feature of a title contender. I hope we have the same depth on the left (injured Gibbs).

  12. Morning all

    Very good basis for debate Rocky.

    I feel Arsene has given himself an excellent problem with the signing of The Squid in addition to Kozzer.

    Djourou has lacked pace so far but he does have ‘wengerball’ capabilities. A lot of supporters have their own first choice CB partnership – mine would be Vermaelen and Kozzer with The Squid as third choice and Djourou as fourth choice.

    Good point kelsey about Vermaelen being a leader too.

  13. The BearMan says:

    Koscielny and Vermaelen is the winning pairing for me.

    About Koscielny, he reads the game better than anyone in the premiership. What he is lacking in height, he has certainly made up with his extra sensory-powers whereby he is aware of the next move opponents are about to make, a second before they do. Better put, by his on guard position, he determines / dictates where the opposition must move. The spider and fly technique.

    Or the bear stealing honey technique. LoLLLLL You can tell that I am hungry!

  14. Excellent analogy BearMan

  15. tommystout says:

    Good post rocky and one headache for mr wenger im sure, i havent felt this good about the defense in years – wonderful feeling isnt it? anyway for me its kozzer and TV, but the difference now is i dont feel doom if either of them gets injured.
    The GK position is looking good too, the futures bright.
    So Rocky is this post the first of a two parter – part two being – RVP’s place in jeapardy?? 🙂

  16. charybdis1966 says:

    Ah bear man, you are highlighting the good anticipation Kozzer has, a little like D O’Leary used to, coax and guide the attacker away from dangerous(to us) areas.
    Incidentally, if anyone is interested in hearing my warblings I’ll be on a podcast soon; I thought I’d let my fans(both of them) know that.

  17. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    I would say that the only certainties to be automatic starters are Cesc & Song 😛

  18. slimshady says:

    Wow love this site. The Verminator has nothing to worry about, in fact, the minute he gets back he should get vice-captain instantly lol. Awesome leader on the pitch

  19. slimshady says:

    I’d say RvP and Vermy are more on that list than Song gnarley 😛

  20. 26may1989 says:

    Nice post Rocky. The fact that we can even have this discussion is a good sign. Three clean sheets in a row – first time we’ve managed that for almost two years. But let’s not get carried away and think the defensive play of the whole team can’t be improved.

    As Ibrahim and others have said, the first choice CB pairing must be Vermaelen and Koscielny, but Squillaci will be regularly rotated in and out. I was worried about plucking someone from nowhere but Koscielny has been hugely impressive since he joined us – the rate at which he has learnt and adapted is fantastic, bearing in mind he has only one season of top flight football behind him. He is absolutely the real deal, and by the end of the season, I think he will have cemented his position as a first pick player alongside Vermaelen but over the next couple of months I think the experience of Squillaci and Vermaelen may on occasion give them the edge.

    As Rasp has said on a few occasions, we could quite easily see all three being picked since Vermaelen could quite conceivably be used in midfield. I don’t think the same can be said of Squillaci, who is to me eye a little slower than the others.

    Djourou is a good fourth choice CB but no more than that. Yes, he’s been injured for a long time, and he has put some good saving challenges in, but in his time at Arsenal he has concsistently shown wayward positional sense and decision making.

  21. RockyLives says:

    Tommy – don’t tempt me! As it happens, I don’t think RvP automatically walks back into the side at Cham’s expense, but there may be a way of accommodating both if we rest the little Russki.

  22. The BearMan says:

    Having heard Song’s feedback on his current goal scoring flurry, I want to nominate is wife for the role of Technical Dreamer at the club – As a volunteer of cause, part of the coalition Big Community plan. LoLLLL Her call has been spot on.

    Arsenal should not buy another player, unless they wives’/girl friend can dream big dreams. The boys need every help they can get playing for Arsenal.

  23. kelsey says:

    RL, didn’t acknowledge your good post, apologies.

    You may or may not know that Alex Song has TWENTY SEVEN brothers and sisters.

    And apparently on another site Chamakh is gay 😉 haven’t they got anything else to talk about.

  24. SharkeySure says:

    Great article Rocky.

    For me its normally a case of – ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’.

    Whilst that might have meant DJ keeping hs place after two clean sheets, Ithink there was enough reason to replace DK with Kozzer. DJ has been Ok, but has had one or two rocky moments.

    All fit..?? Right now I’d go for the calmness and stability of Koz and The Squid.

    I still love Tommy, but I feel that the other two only ever leave their CB positions for set pieces, and I’m very happy about that.

  25. RockyLives says:

    Cheers Kelsey. We should sign up Song Snr – he clearly has energy to burn.

  26. SharkeySure says:

    Kelsey – I saw that scurrilous shite over there too, quickly refuted on the same site, with the news that he is actually engaged.

    I’ve avoided repeating it so that it gathers no more pace.

  27. Big Raddy says:

    Interesting and well written (as always) post.

    Rotation, Rotation Rotation

    GIve players breaks when they look weary or off form,and adapt the team to the opposition e.g. Squid in for Stoke, Koss for AV – unless Carew is starting. IMO TV is our best defender and should always be first on the teamsheet

    Luxury …..

  28. gunnern5 says:

    Thoughtful post Rocky. It would be great to think that our current four CB’s could go on and emulate the feats of Adams, Bould, Keown and Linighan (one can only dream). They may not have the same pedigree but things are tracking in the right direction.

    On a separate note both Neamman and yourself should try out The Mad Hatter pub in Mississauga. It’s located on the south side of Eglinton Ave, between Mavis and Hurontario – it’s the very best Arsenal pub in the city.
    The atmosphere is great and they show ALL games that are on TV including internationals.
    On CL days when two English teams are playing they show both games in different sections of the pub.

    I helped to set it up in the 90’s and was the resident pest there for many years prior to moving to London. Try it out.

  29. The BearMan says:

    The Bear is looking forward to Vermaelen and Ramsey’s return.

    Vermaelen I felt made the oppositions defences very nervous when he came forward for corners. I am a little disappointed with Arsenals corners, these days, we appear to have lost that aerial on’slaught, so that most corners is waisted.

    Ramsey, before his accident was the best student in the game. Whenever, he made a mistake, he would be seen looking across to Wenger and watched for the new pleats appearing on his face. However, by the next game he rarely repeated the same mistake. Excellent quality in a young player.

  30. kelsey says:

    That is London Ontario, for those who may get confused.

    Rasp, peaches did you get my e mail, and if so it needs to be done for tomorrow or not at all.Your decision.

  31. RockyLives says:

    The Young Guns site is reporting that Chesney has refused to have further talks about a contract extension.

  32. RockyLives says:

    Bear – when I start thinking about Ramsey’s potential is when I really get excited. Let’s just hope that he can put the leg break incident behind him.

  33. Big Raddy says:


    If that story in Young Guns is true, and the site is normally reliable, and IF it is not a regurgitation of an old story (highly likely), then Chesney could well be looking for a new club.

    A decent half season at Brentford is no “ace in the hole” when dealing with a master tactician like AW. He will not be put into a “Rooney” situation.

    On reflection, I don’t believe the story

  34. Steve Palmer says:

    We seem to be arguing over who goes where instead of being extremly happy to have these guys back,i get a buzz when i know were still in everything and our injury list is deminishing, and yes there may be selection problems for Wenger, but thats why he gets the big bucks,what does he do, Fabregas Nasri Wilshere Arshavin Vella Song Ramsey, Denilson and so on, what a lovely problem to have.
    I am a big fan of Vermarlen, quality player, Squillachy and Koschelne, have fitted in well you cant have to many quality defenders thats been a problem in the past, up front the same, i dont want to see a weak team on the pitch and i dont want to see a weak bench, what i do want to see is, if after half an hour a player is having a bad day change him so the bad play dosnt effect the rest of the team, make players that have allways thought they are first choice picks, sit it out and fight to regain their form, O yes what a lovely problem to have

  35. Red Arse says:

    There is a very pleasnt Monday after a win feeling today. 🙂

    Don’t want to spoil the euphoria, but Chezzer is reported as refusing to discuss a new contract.

    Anyone speak Polish? It’s on a website called Prseglad Sportowy (?) I think.

  36. Alfa says:

    Hi all, especially all my good friends that haven’t heard from me for a while. I’m still maxed out setting up my business but thankfully that’s because it is going well.

    I really loved the game against WH and the way we all went bonkers in the ground when we finally scored. I have a very positive feeling about this season.

    As for TV, I agree Kos and Sq. are playing really well but TV gives an attacking threat that they don’t, as well as a bit of muscle. A great dilemma to have.

  37. kelsey says:

    Disturbing news if true.he has the best part of twenty years in front of him.he says he wants assurances about how much time he will play and also gain CL experience.I tend to believe this is a current story and one could look at it two ways.

    he loves the club(heard that before) but can’t honestly expect first team regular football yet, and maybe though he states it isn’t money,it most probably is.
    he is definitely going to be in command by the other top clubs, and just when I thought Almunia had already packed his bags we hear this.

    As BR states,Young Guns usually get it right.

  38. Alfa says:

    Hi Kelsey 🙂

  39. Red Arse says:

    Hi Kelsey,

    I did not realise it was on Young Guns. 🙂

    My suspicion is that his advisers are telling him to play hardball, a la Rooneyoh.

    They (his agent and his well known loudmouth dad) will want him to be one of two keepers, and not slip back to No.3 or No.4, (don’t forget Mannone is in the mix).

    A little puzzle for Arsene, but he will not let Chezzer dictate to him in my opinion.

  40. The BearMan says:

    Szczesny is a rather smart cookie. Maybe we fans better not mention his name to often. This might help talks to move on more swiftly. Amazing having only played a few games and putting out the bowl for more???? Or is he waiting to see where the axe lands and who might be coming in, which might determine how long he may have to remain seated on the bench and the added work rate he has to put in to further impress.

  41. Big Raddy says:

    Alfa. Good to see you are well and enjoying the Gooners. Wish I had been at the ground – the last 10 mins must have been great

  42. Big Raddy says:

    Man Utd are looking for a replacement for the 40y.o VdS. Could a kid half his age be on the agenda? 😦

  43. Alfa says:

    BR hi there. The atmosphere at the end was great, best this season for some reason. Maybe that was just my rare half time beer. Maybe it was the chance to stick ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ up the backsides of the departing WH fans who had been more than usually irritating.

  44. kelsey says:

    Morning Alfa and Red Arse.

    Off to work, or should I say play. 😉 laters.

  45. kelsey says:

    Man Utd are looking for a replacement for the 40y.o VdS. Could a kid half his age be on the agenda? 😦


    exactly my thoughts.

  46. Rasp says:

    I’m hoping these rumours about chesney are all part of the ‘contract game’. As far as I am concerned, he should play every CC game (including the final) and remain as 2nd choice (on the bench) even if Almunia recovers from his ‘injury?’

  47. Rasp says:

    Hi Alfa,

    Great to have you back 😛

  48. Alfa says:

    Thanks Rasp, it’s great to be back.

  49. Rasp says:

    If we can rotate CB’s, can we rotate GK’s? I think probably not, but we should make every effort to keep Chesney at Arsenal. I’m sure the money is a persuasion, but really, he just wants first team football.

  50. Red Arse says:


    I am sure Chezzer would want to be No.1, in a perfect world, or would settle for No.2. But what I think he will not accept is being shunted back down to No.3 or No.4.

    Can’t say I blame him, as that might mean him having to wait many years to play for us or perhaps not making it at Arsenal at all.

    He is really forcing Arsene to start making some hard choices. But then he has done that before. Interesting!

  51. Rasp says:

    Almunia’s days should be over. Get Mannone back for January and let’s say “Farewell Manuel”. The pecking order should be (IMHO) Fab2 (as long as his confidence holds) Chesney, Vito.

  52. gunnern5 says:

    Rasp: you’re correct you cannot rotate goalkeepers. Goalkeeping is very much about confidence and ego, being known as the number one is a huge ego boost. Being rotated would mean being dropped to the number one and that would have a negative effect.
    However once we have secured a place in the last 16 of the CL then Szczesny would benefit from a taste of CL football and perhaps he will feel more like he belongs.

  53. Rasp says:

    I agree, good point GN5.

  54. Neamman says:

    Kelsey I know the Mad Hatter well, my favorite moment was in 2004 when Pires scored that great goal against Liverpool. The MH was perhaps 65% pool fans and 35% Gooners. I also remember a sunday game v MU. The place was standing room only and the game was starting at 8am, so no booze and just a so-so brakfast. But a great atmosphere.

  55. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Afternoon all,
    Great post Rocky, and I am suprised that no-one has picked up on your “shepherding opponents” comment. Naturally, my mind lept to what other professions it may be useful to have in the team. Alongside the Shepherd, I suggest a sniper, with a brick layer in goal.
    As for the TV5 issue. I have long suggested TV as a DM. Now that Song has adopted the Zidane role, and AW appears to be playing him with Denilson as cover, I would love to see Verm given the chance. His leadership qualities have always singled him out as a future club captain. Also, as BR pointed out, rotation will inevitably become essential, so great to have the options.

  56. PGROVES says:

    The Verminator is Arsene’s 1st choice centre back & will return to the starting XI once he’s fully fit. The pairings over the past few weeks have done a great job, but that’s the purpose of having a squad; the ability of players to come in and do a job.

    In a similar fashion, it’ll be interesting to see what role RVP (if ever fit) has to play in this side, especially considering Mauroune’s tremendous all round play.

    If we avoid any more serious injuries, we’ll win the title

  57. MickyDidIt89 says:

    A Cabbie at full back, to take them the long way round.
    That’s it. Promise.

  58. 26may1989 says:

    Excellent to see you back GN5, and apologies if I missed you on another day.

  59. Perry GROVES says:

    The Verminator is Arsene’s 1st choice centre back & will return to the starting XI once he’s fully fit. The pairings over the past few weeks have done a great job, but that’s the purpose of having a squad; the ability of players to come in and do a job.

    In a similar fashion, it’ll be interesting to see what role RVP (if ever fit) has to play in this side, especially considering Mauroune’s tremendous all round play.

    If we avoid any more serious injuries, we’ll win the title

  60. charybdis1966 says:

    MDi89 – I did mention the coaxing opponents where you, the defender, wants them to go @ 10.55. That is a skill in itself as much as making thunderous tackles. Somethin gI said D O’leary did well at.

    Incidentally, as I for some reason believe you are one of my fans, I’ll post up the link to a podcast I’ll be featuring on, if Peachy and Raspers are ok about that natch.

    If I get asked back onto that podcast I’ll be sure to slip in an anti fergie/mank rant somehow. 🙂

  61. 26may1989 says:

    What Szczesny is quoted (in a Polish newspaper via Young Guns) as saying suggests professional determination:

    “There was some offers, but I am not interested right now. It’s not that I don’t want to extend the contract, I just don’t want to hold talks at this point. I have enough money to live and I can’t complain about that, but I will only be happy if I play. Everything depends on how many games I play. I admit that I want to play at Arsenal as long as they want me. If I can earn my place in goal I won’t even consider any other offers.”

    I don’t have much of a problem with any of that, he has confidence in his abilities and wants games.

    Our GK problem hasn’t gone away: yes Fabianski has been assured since he came in, and I’m as pleased abou that as anyone, but does anyone really think that’s the end of the errors? I hope there are none, and through all of the anti-Fabianski hysteria, I have maintained that Fabianski has real talent – we saw in the City game the fantastic reactions he has. But I really, really like what I see in Szczesny, and I worry about the possibility of losing him if he’s not given enough game time.

    A tricky one for Wenger to manage, especially once Almunia’s available again, but I am optimistic that we’ll hold onto Szczesny.

  62. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Interesting point you make about RVP. To my mind, we have Theo, RVP and AA who all suit a 4-4-2, which is not going to happen. Theo’s recent goals have come from surges down the middle. Given that we will effectively play 3 up top, I only see RvP playing one of the wider roles as we have developed so nicely with MC central. Do you have a solution for a fit RvP.

  63. Perry GROVES says:

    A fit RVP starts without question. I agree that the most likely option would be to adopt a Netherlands-style attack of RVP on the wing cutting inside with Chamakh down the middle & Theo/Arshavin on the other side.

    I don’t see the formation itself as that important as essentially we’ll always play 4-5-1 without the ball & 4-3-3 with the ball.

    The only thing I can guarantee is that you can’t put a price on RVP’s experience, quality on set pieces & ability to make something out of nothing.

    I believe last time we played Chelsea with RVP fit, we won 2-1 with him scoring twice at the bridge?

  64. 26may1989 says:

    Completely agree Perry: RvP as an inside left alongside Fabregas and Nasri, with Chamakh up front, would be fantastic. It would also work well with positional rotation. Should scare the bejeebies out of the oppo as well.

  65. Perry GROVES says:

    PS the real difficulty is deciding who out of denilson, diaby, ramsey, wilshere, eboue, nasri, rosicky, theo, arshavin, vela, bendtner & chamakh get the 3 remaining spaces alongside song, cesc & RVP (who should all be automatic starters when fit)

  66. 26may1989 says:

    My current ideal first choice XI:

    Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs
    Song, Wilshere
    Nasri, Fabregas, van Persie

    Not that we’ll ever be in a position to field all eleven of them.

  67. MickyDidIt89 says:

    My only problem with your team is that I like JW to get forward, which is also happening with Zidane, sorry Song, and that really leaves us with Denilson as the only purpose built DM. So, here’s my XI:
    Sag Kos Squil Gibbs
    ..JW Cesc Nasri
    …..Cham RvP

  68. Red Arse says:

    All those players to choose from in midfield. I don’t know why we gave Jack an extended contract!

    We should get rid of three quarters of them!!

    NOT! 🙂

  69. Rasp says:

    That’s the perfect team for me Micky, and in a year or two’s time – I’d substitute Chesney for Fab2.

    I’m right behind Fab2, but there were 2 occasions on saturday when he punched a ball he could easily have caught and that tells me his confidence is still fragile. A punch is the GK equivalent to hoofing the ball upfield, whereas a ball caught allows us to retain possession and build an attack.

  70. Red Arse says:

    Listening to a sports programme on saturday, one of the presenters said that RVP had been unavailable thru injury for more than half of all the games he could have played in.

    Anyone hear that, or have some stats corroborating that statement?

  71. SharkeySure says:

    “also happening with Zidane, sorry Song”- thats quality Mickey, add in ‘Lionel’ Eboue and we’re building oyur very own set of Galacticos.

  72. SharkeySure says:

    Rasp – I queried thsoe punches, but was then reminded that it was a wet afternoon with a slippery ball.

    Fair do’s then I thought. The punches themselevs were technically excellent.

    I’m happy enough with Fab these days, but I will be gutted to lose Chesney if it happens

  73. Red Arse says:

    I partly agree with that Rasp. Catching crosses etc looks good and usually makes us fans breathe a sigh of relief.

    Although when there is a melee in the penalty area, with bodies flying around, sneaky pushes being made and Drogba/Davies barging anything that’s wearing a GK jersey, then a firm confident punch to clear the ball is just the right thing to do.

    I would not be against a punch on Drogba/Davies’ snozz which would work too, but may lead to a red card/penalty and maybe the temptation should be resisted! 🙂

  74. RockyLives says:

    Redders, I put these stats in a post a while back:
    “It’s automatic to think of RvP as a persistent absentee, but in the last two seasons his appearance record is not far behind Cesc’s (in the seasons 2008/9 and 2009/10 Cesc played in 64% of our EPL fixtures, Robin played in 58%. In the same period Cesc’s total appearances in all competitions were 69, Robin’s were 64).”

  75. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Those are staggering stats. Who would have believed it.

  76. Red Arse says:

    Thanks Rocky,

    That means that RVP missed 42% of all Premier games in those two seasons. If he had a similar record in the previous (or this) season, it seems that what I heard is not to far off the mark.

    Just makes you think! 😦

  77. Red Arse says:


    I should have said I was simply inverting your stats to fall in with the comment on the radio! 🙂

  78. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Just flicked through some of the websites you and Neamman were talking about early this morning. Yikes. I have a good friend, the world leader in his field as the maker of a classical instrument, interesting chap, and he has spent the last two years preparing for global financial meltdown!!! There must be stacks of the yellow stuff buried on his farm!

  79. Red Arse says:

    We were talking earlier about Chezzer’s reluctance to sign a new contract because he wants a realistic opportunity to be our No.1, it seems.

    In retrospect, wasn’t it fortunate that Mark Hughes blocked the sale of Schwarzer. Would have made things that much more awkward for AW.

  80. chary – the podcast sounds really exciting, of course you should put up a link. Is it for the 7am site?

  81. aaaa says:

    well sed but i think tv will go in to the team not that i wnt him to i think the two we have at the min are to of the best inthe pl at this moment they are real cb old skl tv should be pushed foward next to song have them to there then no one will get though, i was thinkin last season the tv is very much like pettit great left foot graet at tackeling and good in the air and also can find a pass

  82. MickyDidIt89 says:

    RA and Charybdis,
    Not being rude, but I can’t see you. Alternate comments are red and merge with the rest of the screen. Will try and close and re boot. Need to see your comments.

  83. kelsey says:

    I have watched the one and only a few times and if I was a betting man he would be my choice to be sooner or later our number one.his all round game, and presence in his area justs shades it for me via fabianski, who has built up a reputation on lightening quick reflexes as his main attribute.

    Having said that, fab needs a run of gams and up to now he has really performed well.Imagine how long it took him to get over that howler/inexperience at Porto.So he must take a lot of credit for that and of course we now have a better back four defending in any 4 from 6.

  84. kelsey says:

    Micky, i just had exactly the same problem,and not for the first time.

  85. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ah ha, there you all are.

  86. kelsey says:

    Well done RL, one of the most read posts on news now today.

  87. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Now you are all hiding. This is not clever and its not funny. Come out.

  88. Red Arse says:

    CharyB and I are obviously Reds thru and thru. 🙂

    My screen is O.K. at the mo’.

    Anyway, if you guys can’t see me i am going to do a buck naked streak across the screen and blame Rasp if I get caught!!

    Ziiiiiiiizzzzz. See you missed me! 🙂

    It’s a pity you missed CharyB, he offered to take everyone out for a pint. (well, a pint between everyone ….. obviously). 🙂

  89. Osi says:

    Hi has anyone else seen that Nani dived in the match against Tiny Tots? I saw a foreign channel, i don’t remember the name, and their pundit analysis show what was a pure dive by Nani, they played so many times and it was disgusting, it was one these dives that when a player realises that the ball is going out of play and that there’s no way for him to control so he remembers that the defender touched slighly a few seconds ago so he decides to dive. It was awful to watch, and I couldn’t understand that pundit analysis but they show so many times from many angles. I hope this writer and others will get that clip and analyse it.

  90. kelsey says:

    By the way,jack has signed a new long term deal,(if you hadn’t read it already)

  91. SharkeySure says:

    Osi – if you watch it here ion the UK with English commentators them it simply isn;t a dive cos he has a Man U shirt on and the TV companies are honour bound by the PL to say nothing bad about that mob from the Old Toilet !

    Put Nani in his national shirt doing the same thing and you’ll get a completely different reaction !!

  92. charybdis1966 says:

    Thanks Peachy, yes it is off of Tim’s site; this will be his second podcast and I only hope they can do something with my Essex barrow boy voice!

  93. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Nice to see you clothed again, and wearing your suit of good humour as always.

  94. Red Arse says:

    Sharkey, 🙂

  95. Sam says:

    Yeah right.

    Do you also think that RvP wouldn’t get a look in cos Bendtner has been performing well whilst he was away recuperating?

    Oh, and how do you feel about Ramsey? Surely, he shouldn’t come within 6 inches of the team, cos Wilshere has been in the form of his life!

    (Gosh, the stories ppl make up to get a few hits!)

  96. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Simple solution. Buy a voice synthesiser, and you can be whoever you like. Basil Brush might work.

  97. charybdis1966 says:

    I offered everyone hotel buffet breakfast juice sized portions of booze RedA.
    Actually MDi89 I should have used the thing they had for Metal mickey, that way I’d sound just like a Cylon.

  98. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Don’t understand your point.

  99. Red Arse says:

    Hi Micky,

    Must have been your internet connection that made you seem red, because it could not have been your reassuringly expensive Sony, which is just like my reassuringly expensive Sony. 🙂

    Every time I buy a new bit of kit, within 3 weeks it is obsolete. Imagine my delight when, in the Sunday Times, the F Series was heavily advertised as the latest superduper laptop. (red-ing out must have been extra). 🙂

  100. kelsey says:

    Don’t mind me, so i will bugger off 😉

  101. Red Arse says:


    What Micky said, —— doubled!

    What did you mean? Do you have a rival blog?

    Explain, please. 🙂

  102. Red Arse says:

    Sorry Kelsey,

    I thought your comment was rhetorical.

    Yes the Jack contract news was all over the blogs this p.m. Great news. Now all we need is Chezzer to follow suit!

  103. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Two weeks ago, I bought the latest very shiny htc phone. They announced its successor the next day!!

  104. Red Arse says:

    So it’s not just me then Micky! 🙂


    Ooops, sorry didn’t mean that. (apologises insincerely). 🙂

  105. Sam – I think you’ve missed the point, we’re celebrating the fact that we have choices and riches in our squad. Who would you drop to bring Vermaelen straight into the team?

  106. Hi chaps – how are we all this evening? Great news about Jack – shame about Chezzer flexing his muscles 😦

  107. Big Raddy says:

    Painful Kelsey & just as I sat down for a chat…..

    Chary. Looking forward to the podcast. I am an afficionado of both “It’s Up for Grabs” and the “Arsecast”. Foe us ex-pats they are a great audio link to the Arsenal.

    Speaking of which Nik B has been all over the news this evening talking himself up about being free from injury for the first time in a tear and expecting to get some starts (all in Danish)

  108. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Missing points may be his default setting!

  109. charybdis1966 says:

    Peachy, I’m laughing at Twitchy threatening to boycott post match press conferences if the FA pursue him for his remarks after the Mank game.

    Ha ha ha !

  110. MickyDidIt89 says:

    “shame about Chezzer flexing his muscles”. Could be like the old saying of not blowing one’s own trumpet, whereas just occasionally, you might want to at least let people know you HAVE a trumpet. In his case, muscles!

  111. Big Raddy says:

    I spent silly money on my new Mac and the new one was announced a week later, I went to complain to the shop and they offered me some new software insisting they had no prior knowledge of the new model!

    Such is modern life….

  112. Ha ha ha ha ha he’s such a baby or maybe he thinks he’s RedNose’s successor 😉

  113. Red Arse says:

    Well if his boyfriend Purple Nose puts up two fingers to the PL rules, he probably is trying to emulate him. 🙂

  114. charybdis1966 says:

    I’m sure I saw his lower lip trembling when he said that Peachy, he was major-ly pissed off.
    Well we find out tomorrow what the Fa will do.

  115. Big Raddy says:

    Now Spurs are a Top 4 club, Twitchy has delusions of grandeur 😉

    Shame it will be a one season wonder

  116. Oh Raddy, I love Nik but that sounds like the kiss of death to me. He doesn’t have a bashful bone in his body does he 😉

  117. charybdis1966 says:

    You’ll have to pardon my less than relaxed vocal delivery Radders.

    Stage fright !

    Off now – see you all later..

  118. Big Raddy says:

    That he doesn’t Peaches, but it must be remembered that he is a big fish in a small pond (only 5m Danes) and Nik and the Contessa are the Danish Posh and Becks. Wherever he goes there is a media frenzy

  119. Goonersaurus says:

    Harry won’t be speaking to the press ever again after tomorrow, the yids keep getting funnier.


    for free gifts like PS3, Wii, iPad

  120. Big Raddy says:

    Dinner calling …… Ciao4now

  121. Red Arse says:

    Me too, guys.

    Tomorrow. 🙂

  122. SharkeySure says:

    I never buy the latest gadgets cos I just think the whole think is a complete con. Evertything comes out at a premium price and then settles to its real price within two momths, then drops again in 4mths to make way for on the shelves for the new model.

    I always wait a bit me…..

    Anyways, off to watch a re-run of Sat’s match on my Sony Betamax video recorder. Get close enough to the screen and its pretty decent quality.

    Shame I’m still using my old black and white TV with it though….

  123. GoonerGaz says:

    If definitely Kozzer & Verminator for me. Squelch a close 3rd. Finally the strength and depth we so badly needed!

  124. SharkeySure says:

    Ain’t that the truth Gaz !!

    With Johann as a pretty capable fourth choice, and man for the FA and CC cups.

  125. RockyLives says:

    Back again. Been working.
    Micky – there’s a lot of people echoing what Neamann’s been saying. Time to bury the valuables…
    Sharkey: 🙂

  126. RockyLives says:

    Peaches – it’s pointless replying to the likes of Sam. They don’t read the post, they just want to vent and then disappear. He also seems not to have noticed that we have a forward called Chamakh playing for us.

  127. Jose Antonio Reyes says:

    sorry get back in touch with reality koscinely decent stART to the season.squillacilooks no better than silvestre tomy v must go straight back into the team for me.

  128. SharkeySure says:

    You’ve picked a great name to use there JAR, but you start with ‘get back to reality’ and then claim that Silvestre and Squillaci are on a par ! Thats actually quite funny….

    You’ll need to write more than two short sentences to convince people on here of that one !!

    Go on, give it another try.

  129. RockyLives says:

    JAR – Sharkey’s right. The Squid has been playing really well – do you really think he’s another Silvestre?

  130. Frothing Inarticulate Loon says:

    JAR, Rocky – Sharkey’s always right. The only issue is how long it takes people to realise this.

    Wheres Red Arse..??

    Anyway, night all !

  131. Rocky – when you check in – 2nd top story on NN today, just smashed through 7000 hits. Great post I have to say and in spite of a couple of idiots we have had some good debate from it.

  132. […] Vermaelen’s Place in Jeopardy Thomas Vermaelen’s outstanding first season at Arsenal has left most of us assuming that he will be an automatic […] […]

  133. Arsenal Norway says:

    I think its important to form a partnership between Koscielny and Vermaelen for the future, so think he will go straight back into it.

  134. Neamman says:

    Re RVP fitness I think if you look at his first 3-4 seasons the stats would be as bad or worse.
    I think TV is our first choice CB and would be happy with any of the other three by his side. But I have a soft spot for JD and hope he can up his game to be our first choice as well. I dont see RVP being much more than an impact player. I would rather have a MC or NB up front than him. maybe as someone suggested he will be on the wing as he is with the netherlands. My 11


    Sagna TV Sqillici Clichy
    JW Cesc Song
    RVP Nasri

  135. Alex says:

    Good article, Vermaelen is overrated, he has great attitude, but he was leaking goals last season, our defence was nothing more than average. This season we are much bette. If Squill and Koss keep clean sheets they must keep playing, simple as that. Squill positioning is superior to TV, Kos tackling is also superior to TV. They both are great in the air. Keep them.

  136. Chris M says:

    Woah, i guess im a little late commenting lol. I havent read any comments, theres too many so i dont know if what i will say is already been said.

    You talked about Squillaci and Kos forming a good partnership, one of the key elements for this is they are both French. Because of this they communicate with each other very well, so when in training or in a game they know how to feed off each other. I know to some of you this has nothing to do with it but trust me when i tell you, when you have 2 or more players of the same nationality its easier to play with them simply ’cause of there nationality. We seen it before with Henry, Vieira, and Pires.

    If you bring in Lukaku and Hazard, both Belgium, they would work amazing together. Its one of the key things not the only one but one of them. Its just how it is.

    Hopefully you know where im coming from, i tried to explain it as best as possible and hope nobody gets confused lol.

  137. RockyLives says:

    Alex: I’m loving the Kozzer/Squid partnership and I hope they continue.

    Chris M: Fair point, but Verm and Gallas are both French speakers and we still looked shaky at the back for most of last season. If you’re right, then any three from Verm, Squid and Kozzer should work well from a communication point of view (and possibly that applies to Djourou as well if he’s a French-speaking Swiss).

  138. Neamman says:

    Actually thereartesome good points there, with TV we do look shaky at times, yeah..maybe he is a better DM?

  139. RockyLives says:

    Neamann, I could see Kozzer in the DM role, with TV and The Squid at CB.

  140. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Blimey, the nightshift is up & about.

  141. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    I hope we go all out to win tomorrow and then put the CL to bed until the Spring.

    There is a major doubt that Cesc won’t travel and a doubt aswell about “Lionel” Song.

  142. SharkeySure says:

    Chris M. A well written argument, but I have to respectfully disagree.

    There’s just way too many examples of players of differing nationalities performing very well together.

    Lucio and Samuel at Inter, Vidic and Ferdinand, Terry (spit!) and Carvalho/Gallas, Keown and Campbell (Spud!?).

    It really is just about compatibility and the amount of time you play together, not o mention the quality and defensive mentality/awareness of the rest of the team

  143. Morning all

    Theres a NEW POST

  144. Dgob says:

    My favoured starting XI (all being equal and not injured):

    Sagna, Kos, Verm, Gibbs
    Song, Wilshere, Nasri
    Walcott, Fabr, Cham

    My second XI (in the event of injury or loss of form):

    Eboue, Squil, Djourou, Cliche
    Denilson, Diaby, Arshavin,
    Van Persie, Bendtner, Vela

    I think this just suggests our strength in depth. I’d play the second XI in all CC matches and swap them in and out according to performance, injury and opposition. JET, East, Lansbury should be subs for the second XI and be given chances on the same criteria as for the second and first XI.

    And to think of those who’ve slated the Boss about his buys and strategy (not to mention having questioned many of those who now form our first XI)!

    The future’s bright: the future’s red and white.


  145. Hi there, everything iis going nicely here and ofcourse every
    one is sharing facts, that’s eally excellent, keepp up writing.

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