Friday, June 19, 2009

Vermaelen Officially Signs for Arsenal

Hello all. I've been on a bit of a hiatus since June 2nd. Why, you ask? Well simply because there's been absolutely nothing to write about. I don't want to write about how we might sign a 16 year old Frenchman, or about how Cesc might leave, then the next day he might not leave. It's just boring. Besides that, I've been kind of busy, so that's my excuse. But I'm back now and I'll be posting every day just like I did before. Now on to Arsenal.

I suppose there's pretty big news today. Thomas Vermaelen was introduced officially as an Arsenal player. We've been trailing him for a couple of weeks now and we've landed our man. We've all known that we need a center back for a while now so it's good that we've locked one up. Problem is, as is with most of the players we sign, I haven't seen much of him at all since I don't ever watch the Dutch league or the Belgian national team.

Arsene Wenger had this to say about him:

“Thomas is a great signing for Arsenal Football Club, and we are all delighted that he is joining us. Thomas is a solid performer with good experience of Champions League and UEFA Cup football and is also a regular with the Belgium national team. Thomas is primarily a left-footed centre back, but he’s multi-functional and can also play at left back. He is strong technically with a positive winner’s attitude and I have no doubt his arrival will strengthen our team. Thomas Vermaelen will be a huge asset to Arsenal.”
Vermaelen responded with these quotes:

“I’m just so happy to be joining Arsenal. This is a great Club with a world class manager, high quality players and a fantastic stadium. Everything is set up for Arsenal to be very successful for years to come and I joined this Club because I know Arsenal will be challenging for trophies.

“I have had a good taste of the Champions League during my time with Ajax and this is something I am looking forward to experiencing again with Arsenal. I’m also looking forward to playing in the English Premier League, which for me, is the best league in the world. Also, I just want to assure the Arsenal fans that I will give everything for this Club and I hope we can enjoy winning some trophies together next season.”
I like him already. I know everyone goes on and on about how great a club Arsenal is and how they are going to give their best for the club and the fans, but it still never gets old. If every player actually stuck to that mentality life would be wonderful.

While I can't comment all that much on the actual player we've signed, I can say that I'm pleased with the way this deal got done. We didn't wait until August 30th to start negotiating like we did for Xabi Alonso last year, we identified a target and went and got him, which is how it should be. This will allow him to get a full pre-season camp in with us and get accustomed to the style and to all of his team mates.

It'll be interesting to see what happens to not only Kolo Toure and William Gallas but also Phillippe Senderos. I forsee at least two of them being sold with Vermaelen coming in, and the only question is which two. If Milan want to keep Senderos, I'm absolutely sure we'll let them, but that is a big if. Then it comes down to Toure and Gallas. Gallas has played better than Toure as of late, but he's also older and is a bit of a cunt. We also have Djourou coming up who I think is going to be an exceptional player. Who do you think will be our first choice pairing at center back next year? It's really hard to predict.

Last but not least for today, I'm seriously considering getting an Arsenal tattoo. I haven't decided exactly what or where though yet. I may just get Arsenal down the inside of my forearm, or across my back. Anyone got any sweet ideas that I can steal from you? Let me know. Thanks. Peace.


Anonymous said...

Milan declined to exercise the option on Senderos, ... and Big Phil isn't exactly enamored about returning to the Emirates to keep a warm seat on the bench.

Although I'm from the States, I live in Switzerland and follow their national team pretty closely. I agree about Djourou. He has all the tools to be a truly exceptional player, ... and for a long time. Big, fast, agile, intelligent, composed, ... but without the big ego that usually comes with the rest of the package. One of the biggest questions in my mind during the end of last season was why Djourou didn't play more. He hardly played at all. Why Silvestre got so much playing time is a complete mystery. Okay, Silvestre is slower, smaller, and a bit on the clumsy side, but apart from these qualities Djourou is every bit his equal. The Champion's League semis against the Northeast England Troglodytes would've been a great chance for Djourou to get some 'big game' experience. Ditto for matches against Chelsea.

About Vermaelen, he has a good history, but I'm not so sure that he represents an improvement as perhaps a step sideways. Physically, he does all the same things Gallas and Toure do, ... and also shares their weakness inasmuch as he's average at best in the air. The fact that he can also play on the left side probably clinched the deal in Wenger's mind inasmuch as all the interest in Clichy from Barcelona, Real Madrid, Milan and all the other usual suspects casts doubt on how long he'll stick around.

If I were Wenger, I'd try to talk Senderos around to giving it another try. If he's paired up with another defender who can read the game well so that he (Senderos) doesn't have to do a lot of thinking (not one of his strong points, I suspect), then he can be exceptional. During the 2006 World Cup in Germany he was paired with Patrick Mueller (playing then for Lyon), and the Swiss missed out on the quarterfinal round even though they didn't give up a goal during playing time (losing to Ukraine on penalties). Mueller (a very intelligent player with no physique but better than average skills) was like a director in the back, and Senderos was doing all the shit work, ... and doing it very well. Vermaelen could fill the same role, as could Toure. The same could also be said for Gallas, but his best years are behind him, and he doesn't add anything positive in terms of attitude or support.

It's a bit early to start filling out the playing card for the first match, but I think Wenger (in his grand design) has to look at his center backs as really being two separate positions, ... sort of like the small forward / power forward in basketball. I'd assign the 'director' role to Toure & Vermaelen, and the 'animal' role to Djourou & Senderos. Also, it can't be forgotten that Djourou also has the ability to play the 'director', but he needs to get some playing time to acquire the requisite experience.

ArseNole said...

John, that is one of the most well thought out, intelligent comments I have ever received in almost 2 years of running this site. Props to you, and I agree on every point.

Andre said...

I'm excited about this guy, but I have no idea what to expect. I hope we keep Toure, but Djourou was looking really good at the end of the year. I've always like gallas, but he is getting old, like you said.

As for the tattoo... Wenger molesting a youth player???

Actually, I'm thinking about getting Wenger on my shoulder... we'll see.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone going to use the forums?

Anonymous said...

This comment is about two topics.

First the short one. This may be more appropriate for a 'forum' topic, but I'm not sure how the forum works. If someone could provide a 'quick and dirty' explanation, that would be appreciated.

The second is a little 'off topic' from the original, but it does bear strongly on what Arsenal needs to be considering in terms of the transfers to make (or attempt) this summer.

Reading Cesc Fabregas' latest 'body language', it's pretty clear that his heart and interests are elsewhere. With every opportunity he has to speak to the media, he only proves that the primary difference between himself and Adebayor is skin color.

Both are extremely talented and in the young stage of their careers. However, both had (comparatively speaking) subpar years the past season, and (interestingly) the primary reason was injury.

Both of them flip-flop on how they feel about Arsenal and continuing to play there. If the answer is "yes" on Monday to a question "Do you want to stay at Arsenal?", then you can be certain that the answer will be "no" if the same question is posed on Thursday.

Both of them belong to sectors of the team that can be considered to have a surplus. Arsenal's strong offensive middlefield allows them to play often (and effectively) with only one forward. Leaving 3 out of a group comprised of van Persie, Eduardo, Adebayor and Bendtner on the bench is a bit of a luxury that may not be affordable, especially when you take into account the facts that Arshavin can also play up front, and that because Walcott's long-term future is probably as a forward and not a winger, it's likely that the move in that direction will start soon.

Ditto for the offensive middlefield. If Rosicky makes his expected return, then with him, Nasri, Fabregas, and Arshavin you have 4 players for essentially 1-2 positions. Again, a bit of a luxury for a team that is looking for funds to acquire players to shore up other areas.

The last point that Fabregas and Adebayor have in common is that, despite their sub-par performances they are still in (relatively) high demand. Fabregas would probably fetch around 30 million euros, Adebayor 20-25 million. The 45 million these two would probably bring would triple Wenger's meager transfer budget. Who knows what that might bring, but at least we wouldn't have to scour the google search pages every time a transfer rumor appears, trying to figure out who the f*** some new, obscure talent is, where he's played etc.

Chelsky appears to have a strong interest in Adebayor. That's not good, ... it's excellent. How about a one-off exchange, ... Essien for Adebayor? Maybe even a few million euros going either way, .. that would still be interesting.

As for Fabregas, his latest remarks about how his family (who are Catalan) would "understand" his playing for Real Madrid, this is just one more indication that not only is he interested in such a move, but that he's been interested for a long time. This isn't an "off-the-cuff" remark. He really wants to go. ... Let him, especially since Real Madrid appears to have no qualms about paying over the top transfer fees.

In either case, the departure of Adebayor or Fabregas would mean the loss of a top player. But it wouldn't leave as big a hole as might first appear. Moreover, in the case of Fabregas it would mean the removal of a potentially (and seriously) damaging situation of having the captain of your team not having his heart and mind where it belongs. This is especially important for a team as young as Arsenal.

Anonymous said...

Today's Friday, so Cesc must be in love with Arsenal again. His latest quote: "I am wholeheartedly committed to Arsenal."

There are undoubtedly many Gunners who feel relieved at this new revelation. Not because it bears even a hint of truth or sincerity, but more because it's want they want to hear. They'd have better luck believing in Santa Claus.

In the interests of full disclosure, I think it would only be fair for Fabregas to complete the thought behind the quote. It for sure would look something like:

"I am wholeheartedly committed to Arsenal :

* ... until I'm asked the same question again."

* ... unless I had fish for dinner before the question was asked."

* ... So long as the day of the week on which the question is asked begins with a 'T'".

One of the attractions of Arsenal (for me at least), is that they are not only very, very good, but that they also have character. It's the kind of character that gives the club a touch of class that is missing from any other club. This is due primarily to Arsene Wenger, who's had many opportunities to more lucrative pastures but has stayed to finish what he's started. It's also due to management, who have stayed with during periods when other clubs would've fired the coach without a second thought.

Talented though he may be, Fabregas has shown he doesn't fit in anymore. If he were the only great midfielder Arsenal has, then perhaps it would be a different story. But he isn't, and this 'I love you, ... I love you not' saga is simply excess baggage the club cannot afford, ... especially from their captain.

Ship the guy out and cash in on his value while it's still high.

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