Djourou or Vermaelen to partner Gallas against Everton?

Djourou... or Vermaelen?

Good afternoon to you all from a very sunny Brisbane and a very chirpy blogger. It’s a public holiday for Brisbane tomorrow so as soon as this goes online I’ll be off to have a few drinks and put my feet up.

It’s a tale of two defenders today as our younger centre-backs compete for a place alongside William Gallas for the first game of the season.

Arsene Wenger has revealed that Thomas Vermaelen – who missed the last three pre-season fixtures with a slight groin problem – is ready to return for the first fixture of the season at Goodison Park on Saturday. Whether or not he is chosen ahead of Johan Djourou is still to be decided and the Swiss centre-back has once again been talking up his chances of making a big impact on the team this season. In his own words he said: 

“I signed for Arsenal when I was only 16 so it’s been a good learning process. Centre back is an experienced position, you’ve got all those big players and you can play until you are late in your age, so I think you have to be patient. Now I am 22 and you can see that I have learned a lot. For me that has been fantastic and now it is time for me to step up.”

Granted he stays injury-free I think Djourou is set for a big season with Arsenal. It’s obvious the manager is pinning his hopes on the Swiss stopper stepping up considerably in this campaign and I think he will do so admirably. At this stage I’d suggest he is the #3 centre-back in the club after William Gallas and new signing Vermaelen, but I think the Belgian’s slight injury will hand Djourou a starting spot against Everton and it will be up to him to make the most of this opportunity.

Although I think we have an excellent defensive trio of Gallas, Vermaelen and Djourou I am of the strong opinion that we need to strengthen in either central defence or central midfield to give us the options we need. At this stage Alex Song is our only real option as the defensive pivot of our new-look three-man midfield and I do get a sense from Wenger’s comments that he feels he can do a job at the back as well. 

The trouble is that he can’t rely on Song to be both a central midfielder and centre-back without bringing in adequate cover to make the most of his versatility. As such, I still feel a defensive midfielder needs to be brought in to give us more options and depth in the defensive areas of the pitch even despite Wenger’s admission that he is unlikely to bring in any new players before the season starts. While it might not happen before the Everton game I’d wager a hefty bet that it will before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month.

Changing the tune now and Manuel Almunia has been talking about the possibility of him playing for England after Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster’s latest injury setup. Rather cleverly, Almunia is taking a softly, softly approach to the option of playing for England with these comments:

“I have to see what people think because it’s not an easy decision. I’m 32 so I don’t want any problems with anyone. This is not a silly thing. You are playing with the hearts of people. It [an England cap] is not something you can buy in a shop. I don’t want to disturb anybody. I want to make everybody happy.”

I think Almunia should be applauded for the way he is approaching this situation. It’s clear he has an understanding of how people are going to react and he’s obviously putting a lot of thought into the decision of whether or not to become an English citizen. Personally I’m not sure if I’d like Almunia to play for England – it would only intensify the media scrutiny, after all – but if he decides it what he wants to do then who are we to stop him?

Anyway, I’m going to leave it there for today. I realise there’s been no guest post today but I felt like we needed a bit of a catch-up and I’ve saved the article for tomorrow. Have a lovely Tuesday then.

Have your say on Djourou, Vermaelen, or Almunia by leaving a comment.



  1. Id say djourou HAS to start ahead of vermaelen this season, with the current squad we have. Simply, we need a CB with some height.
    Everyone was complaining how we had 2 short CBs last season, and now wenger has gone and bought another sweeper. Ive seen a bit of him, and he looks good to me, but his playing style is not what we need. My hope is that he was bought to succeed gallas.
    Djourou’s not perfect, but hes getting better all the time. He’s great against skilful strikers, but can be beaten by good movement I feel, but he does work well with gallas.

  2. Er…Andrew, where’s that mental it was all supposed to get? The only thing getting mental is me when I see Diaby and Sylvestre still lining up for us. Sorry – now I’M being negative.
    Everton – really we couldn’t have picked a better first game – except that they have a few important players out injured so I believe. A very good side without being the best. Hard but not one of the Top 4. They’ll be really committed, in front of their own fans. Will our babies wilt? It’s the perfect first game examination. And if we get beat by Everton I think we’ll pretty much know already what to expect for the rest of the season.

  3. @ Davi – Good sum-up of the situation. Djourou’s a big favourite of mine but I’m yet to see Vermaelen play so can’t comment.

  4. I agree very much with your excellent article.

    IMO it should be Hangeland playing alongside Gallas come Saturday and it is only down to Wengers stubborness/ idleness / insecurities/ stupidity that he’s not. I’m not anti wenger he has made us what we are today, however his recent blindness to the blatantly obvious is really beginning to irritate me.

    I said to a friend of mine this time last season we won’t anythin this year coz we need a DM and a tall CB who can actually head the ball. One year on, nothing has changed. We have tons of prissy pretty little ball players, we now need a big ugly mother f-er to defend set pieces, why won’t Wenger buy this final missing piece of the puzzle. The kids are fantastic you’ve given them a chance wenger, you won’t ruin them buy buying one tall ugly defender who is a physical presence, that’s exactly what the kids need, someone to dp the dirty work and head it out halfway up the pitch for them to get down and play the pretty stuff.

  5. couldn’t agree more with THE TRUTH hangeland would come IF we made the move for him, hopeful but time is running out both for a centre back and DM.

  6. I dont agree with this concept. Djorou is an average defender – does not fall into the category of one of those with the “potential”, even a eboue would be a better centre half than djorou – the guy lacks serious capacity, the only benefit he has is the height and is absolutely not making any use of it

    Gallas is past his prime – should only be considered as a backup player who anyway would go out on a free transfer at the end of this season.Vermaelen is new to the premier league and would require time to settle; Silvestre and Song are actually better options in comparison to Djorou and could be used as backups again. Which leaves us with the need to buy a good centre half who can perhaps form a good partnership with Vermaelen – gallas, song and Djorou can be backups

    The only name doing the rounds is Brede Hangeland – who is quite similar in stature to Vermaelen, reminds me of Vidic – Ferdinand; would be a useful addition from the little that I’ve seen of him from last season

    Am sure Arsene has his bag of tricks and would pull another miracle before the month end – In Arsene we believe 🙂

  7. I am not sure we need a huge, slow CB. Senderous was supposed to be our no nonsense tackling destroyer also good in the air for set pieces! However those type of players are prone to the occasional lapse or accident and tend to give the ball away in dangerous areas.It only needs to happen once in a game! What we need is a mobile tough tackling full blooded heading defender (vidic) type player, who can retain the ball, and pass it. Not many around.Is this what Wenger has seen in Vermaelen?
    As for Wengers apparent reluctance in the Transfer market, i suspect the unhappy truth may be that Arsenal are struggling with their debt, and had to sell to buy. That delay has seen other transfer targets snapped up, do we really want to buy players that other clubs bypassed? Wenger does not panic or buy on a whim and has seen that the players he could buy on the available budget, without spending ridiculous ammounts on average players i.e. Dunne, Lescott, Barry etc etc,are no better than those he already has.

  8. The only missing part of d squad has been highlighted by some gunners faithful up there , we just need aw 2 get his head straight and get a tall strong cd 4 d club and a strong md

    Sent on a phone using

  9. @ The Truth – I really like the way you put that. Yeah, I think it sums it up perfectly. From where I’m standing, and a lot of other Gooners too, I just can’t understand why he won’t put that one last piece in place. We could be brilliant!!

  10. I dont know wat people are watching. Djourou isnt slow, hes quick! Hes not some lumbering idiot, hes very skillful and extremely tough to beat 1-on-1.
    Hes a DM who has been converted to CB. He has all the attributes of a top DM imo, but his height and strength have led to arsenal wanting to convert him.
    Song is similar but doesnt have quite as much skill as JD imo. Id like to see these two as our long-term CB partnership, altho vermaelen may change my mind on that.
    I Would however be pleased if hangeland joined this year and played out a few years while JD accumulates more experience, as hangeland is more proven. He is a bit slower, but by no means poor on the ball or cumbersome – he also started as a midfielder and was capped for his country in that position.

  11. @steviej – djourou is FAR better than vidic with the ball, hes also *at least* as quick. Vidic is more aggressive and powerful in the air and of course a much better CB, but hes also older and more experienced.
    Senderos is a brilliant defender against 90% of opponents. He is more than good enough to be our main CB on talent, but he has psychological issues which lead to his mistakes.

  12. Excited about the possibility of Marouane Chamakh coming to the Emirates. Although it might not happen at all this transfer window, I think he would add a lot to our side.

    In our proposed new formation, it seems he would be perfect on the right wing. Wenger himself has stated he likes Chamakh because he brings others into play something that would suit the newly created right-wing role. From watching a couple of youtube videos (highly unscientific I know) he seems to have a good turn of pace and a whole lot of flair and tricks whilst probably lacking the composure and clinical finishing of somebody like Eduardo. Playing on the wing may mean he has less pressure to score and will obviously be forced by the nature of his position to be more of a provider than a finisher. Other things he has going for him is that he is moderately cheap, tall and somewhat of a target-man so comparable to Bentdner in that regard, desperate to come to Arsenal, French speaking and that he has been playing at a good league in one of the top sides for a few years so has experience etc that we lack on the right wing with Walcott and Bendtner the incumbents.

    I think the nature of eligible and obtainable players out there will dictate Arsenals spending more than anything. We saw it with Felipe Melo who was an experienced player that would add something to the side and was obtainable for a realistic price so Wenger went after him but just missed out unfortunately. Chamakh is the same, experienced player from a good league just entering his peak (Melo aged 26, Chamakh is 25) and Arsene has spoken of his interest. Vermaelen too fits these parameters in that he received experience from a (relatively) young age and is still yet to enter the twilight of his career. I think Wenger may not be able to find anymore of these players out there who will fit into his system of play etc so rightfully so he would rather save his money until something changes in the next transfer window or next year.

    We can see how a cavallier approach to a transfer window can harm a club. Just look at flops like what Rafa Benitez has done even last year. Andrea Dossena, Phillip Degen, Robbie Keane, these were players who probably were good enough for Benitez to get but if Arsenal were to make purchases like these, it would harm our club greatly.

    These are the reasons why I think its absurd when I hear people say “Wenger needs to spend” etc. No, he doesn’t, I would rather things stay as is than us sign a poor or mediocre player. Trust in him that he is a good enough manager to know the right players to sign and the wrong ones. He gets paid millions upon millions every year, he knows the game better than all the Arsenal supporters combined wisdom and thats fact.

    I loved the interview you did with Arseblogger yesterday by the way Andy. That guy is great.

  13. I’ll back up Swift here. I know there is immense pressure on Wenger from the fans to spend, and I don’t think that pressure is very helpful.

    There is a tendency to see the grass as being greener elsewhere. We look at players who stand out in mediocre teams, and think they are better than who we have already. I’m not so sure. We have been linked with an incredible amount of dross, and it’s a shame to see fans jump on those bandwagons rather than support the players already wearing the shirt.

    It’s true that CB and DM are potentially problem positions for Arsenal. It’s not at all true that there are obvious solutions.

  14. Can somebody please tell Wenger that, Diaby is a good player, but he dribbles too much. When he get ball at first, what comes to his mind is how to dribble. That is not the best. He should pass the ball often and let it flow.

    Sylvester should be sold, he cant compete in the air and he makes serious mistakes more than Gibbs.

    Clichy gives more chance to attackers. He should be more proactive.

    Buy a DM or CM to hold the midfield


  15. Clearly Vermaelen should partner Gallas whenever fit. He could be injured, but it is not a question if he is available.

    If we do sign another backup center back (who is competitive) as well as a striker and possibly a backup DM we will have a very very very good squad.

  16. A major problem for young defenders is learning to concentrate and in the second half of last season it was obvious that Djourou had made that transition to remaining focussed for the full 90 minutes – It is a trick Micah Ricards is still far from mastering – subject to JD beig and staying fit I expect him to start on Saturday and be in the side for a run.

    Vermaelen – well we shall see – dutchmen are almost always inteligent footballers so I have no doubts he will be an asset but the pace and physical batering he can expect in the PL willnot be what he is used to – I remember even Jaap Stam topk three months to get up to pace and I doubt we shall see the best of Vermaelen this side of Christmas.

  17. Let’s face it, whether we like it or not Wenger sees Silvestre as adequate cover for centre back. He also trusts Denison and Song to cover DM.

    Even if we do sign anyone else, it will probably be Chamakh.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  18. Hangeland is too slow. Really sick of people saying we should get him. We aren’t, he’s not good enough, Wenger has more football knowledge than you or I so stop suggesting him and stop whinging.

    Vermaelen should partner Gallas, you don’t pay 10 mil on a player who isn’t in your 1st team plans.

  19. @ jacobs or anyone else for that matter how was diaby in pre season? as I didn’t get to see any games as setenta didn’t play F-all this year.
    @ spanish my trip to brissie is booked and I’ll be there at the end of oct so would love to catch up with any gooners at the pig or the casino if poss and watch a game.

  20. Djourou or Vermaelen, it can be a big season for both. Personally I think Djourou should have carried on in defence last season after the 1st day. Djourou has height which is something that we are lacking at the back but Vermaelen is the aggressive type which is also something we are lacking. I would say Djourou because Vermaelen was injured. Gallas is the experienced CB so he will start. But AW did say Vermaelen could have played v Valencia but he didnt want to take the risk, this could be because he wanted to start him v Everton.

  21. Well Xabier as you say Arsene would not pay £10 million for player who was not “in his plans”- being in his plans and being a nailed on starter are however two quite different things – ask Wiltord and Jeffers or, more recently, Nasri

    Opening game at Goodson I see Arsene as most likekly to stick with what he knows – JD

  22. Vermalen will be more likely the starter, i think so!!. Ansd who said that the Vermalen is a short lad?? the guy is even a bit taller than Gallas except that he isnt really nicely built up, a bit slim in stature.Here is my line up agst Everton:

  23. @ radads – would you really leave Eduardo out?

    Last time he played at Goodison Park he scored a couple of goals. I remember it well as I was stuck behind a metal beam in the worst possible seat. If only every team had a stadium like ours!

  24. really enjoyed the blog today some great points being made
    @the truth, i liked the way you put ur point across as i hav tried to say same but maybe came across a little negative and anti wenger which i am def not…the point fans who want us to bring in 2/3 players are tryin to make is dat we dnt want the overated or average over-valued players some fans hav mentioned bout today but we would like the proven quality of a huntelaar,diarra or villa(dreaming) and not just that we would like to see the boss identify a player and just be ruthless in his pursuit and get his man instead of the drawn out process associated with ALL our signings…u cant always be on the lookout for a bagain and i guess i just feel after gettin so many over the years its nearly time he paid for a villa,etoo or ribery and treat us………i dont think wel see a player of ‘star status’ arrive until AW passes over the reins..just look wot signing torres has done for l’pool, it made them title contenders in 1 season cos they wer willing to pay for proven not sayin it has to be a striker either but it would be nice to sign a player whos top notch at wot he does,is hangelaand that type player???not convinced
    djourou has ability and speed
    but is too nice and lacks the ‘spoiler’ attribute that makes ferdinand and vidic so good.aswel as their strength and speed they know how to pull,drag and break up free flowing moves without hesitation. maybe thats a problem with alot of our players that we are too willing to let other teams play ball against us and concede ground rather than commiting a ‘foul for the team’ to break up play
    i think vermaelen, whos belgian not dutch, has that ruthless streak in him and that he and gallas would be a formidable partnership but i would still hav faith in jd to do a job when called upon…senderos will leave and i for one will not be too upset to see him go..he always tried but i think his concentration was poor and let him down when he needed it most
    if we wer to pickup 3pts sat i would be over the moon

  25. Marari, your earlier comment about Gallas being past it couldn’t b more incorrect. He was fantastic last season, the nearest thing to a rock Arsenal posess at the back.

  26. @ice – ur always real.
    Hey shambo…..
    Still not talking……I’m not saying nothing bout soccer till he buys…..

    Lots of current (up to date) comments are usually not seen probably cos a new post has been done while people are releasing the latest updates in a previous post.

    @Spanish – Is there a way people could be beep..ed, so they could know when to switch pages? Of course, its just a suggestion. Thanks in anticipation of ur prompt and favourable response

  27. @MURARI – Is it WILLIAM GALLAS u were talking about? R u sure u watched GALLAS play at all? U dont seem to know him. Pity, u mislead others

  28. Swift i have just read your article. The extreamly long one. How long are you prepared to give Wenger to get it right. Or on the other hand do you consider the last 4 seasons as getting it right.
    You did say you would rather things stay as they are than Wenger spend money on top players. And any way wasn’t the idea of moving into a new stadium suppose to provide the club with more funds.

  29. Ignatz, did you not know that most players who show potential at a young age move from so called mediocre teams to so called big clubs. If they didn’t stand out no one would buy them. In the recent past, wasn’t that where Wenger got all his good bargins from. Not including fabregas mind you!

  30. Femi, on reflection, dont you sometimes watch Arsenal and wish they would be a little more direct, instead of always pass, pass, pass from one side of the field to the other and end up giving the ball away just outside the defending teams box. Thats why at times when eboue is having a good game and he is running at players from deep, he excites me. Not often mind, but he does do it.

  31. Femi, from the time the youth enter the Arsenal Academy the right and left backs are taught to play the wingback system. Which means they attack as often as possible when possible. The majority have potential to become wingers.

  32. People… if Wenger does sign hangeland he might need to get his back line positioned deeper because as you say hangy is a little slow. They would be more difficult to get behind then resulting in less crosses coming into the box. But then again the midfield would be more exposed. I know DM AGAIN!

  33. Gunner, u and Shambo should av yr own show on Talk Sport. How long does it take for this system to up date. The last six contributions have been mine. Has everyone gone to bed or is there something i dont know.

  34. @ icehammer – So many comments man! Be patient..

    Good conversation on the blog today all, really enjoyed it. I’m hoping Wenger goes for Gallas and Djourou this weekend but if Vermaelen plays I won’t be too upset.

  35. Icehammer, 1st: Vermaelen is 6 foot 0 inches tall (like it even matters) according to an article on from a few days ago.

    You also misquote me, I believe I said I would rather Wenger hold onto his money than spend it on signings like some less frugal managers do when they feel they have to make signings. Case in point is Andrea Dossena who cost Liverpool more than we paid for Bakary Sagna, Dossena hardly played for Liverpool and cost them a lot of money and without him, Liverpool still challened for the title. Nowhere did I say in my post that I would rather Wenger not buy top players… I said if he can’t get top players that suit us, don’t get any players at all. Hangeland obviously isn’t good enough in Wengers mind, Vieira isn’t, Vermaelen was, Felipe Melo was, Marouane Chamakh is. Wenger seemingly can’t find another midfielder that we can buy on our budget, so I think the net gain for Arsenal is more than if we sign somebody who wouldn’t be our first choice. Wenger realises that he WILL come under pressure from the media and from the masses of fickle and unloyal ‘fans’ because he hasn’t made a signing in midfield and for that I applaud him. But I think it is better to leave as is and keep with Song and Denilson and co who actually did a good job last season overall than make a bad or mediocre signing that we will most likely regret a few seasons later. All this is assuming that he cannot find a signing before the window closes in which case this will all be redundant.

    To answer your original question theicehammer, I am prepared to give Wenger as long as humanly possible to get it “right”, his pedigree is undoubted and for all the stick he is getting from the fans, everybody knows nobody could do a better job than what Arsene is currently doing. Getting it “right” is also a relative term, its not black or white, and circumstances must be taken into account. Injuries to so many key players messed with our past few seasons (Eduardo, Rosicky, Fabregas for a few months, lots of injuries in defence during CL and PL endings last season) as well as a few players engineering exits out of the club etc make for less than ideal circumstances and I believe with less bad luck in the future, we should improve greatly.

  36. Well, what about Matuidi? He’s not that big, but I read somewhere that he’s basically the engine behind Bordeaux team which won their league last year; almost, and I mean almost, a young Makelele clone. Those are some strong words but I think AW wants someone in the range of 5-8mil (where da hell is the pound symbol here?!) pounds. So it’s either gonna be Chamakh or Matuidi, me thinks. That will leave us with 25 mil pounds in the black which is the yearly payment on the stadium…

  37. D’you really think Djourou would be a first choice? I think he has not enough mental strenght, I feel he will suffer the Senderos’ Syondrome..I strongly hope AW will bring in another experienced CB to partner Gallas or Vermaelen, because for the very first time I’m really afraid about our team..Wenger had a great idea in designing a new midfield, leaving Cesc the spaces to create our football, but I’m not confident Song will be able to hold our midfield all season long. We need a def midfielder, I’d love to see Vieira again – even if he’s 33, injury prone and “not really fast” 🙂 on the 1st yard – but I think he won’t sing. Hope to be wrong for all I have said!

  38. Mr wenger should get chamakh or kalou to compete the right wing position with walcott.That will help walcott improveif possible wenger should get j.cole to assist on the wing also.wenger pls sign a new player.

  39. I think Vermaelen is a good choice to partner Gallas,because from the way i see him,he is skillfull as compared to Djourou.also i think he is stead which is one of the good choice of a central defender.

  40. Why should Gallas be the first choice? Why not start Johan and Thomas together? I think our backline could be a lot quicker with those two youngsters in the middle, flanked by another two youngsters, Gael and Bacary!

  41. PD,D! Gallas should start because at present based on last season he was by far the best. Starting with the other two would take to much experience away from the back four especially, as you have stated, Gale and Bacry are also young. Give Thomas a couple of games to learn the prem system.

  42. I think Djourou is a good choice to partner Gallas, because they are together for a long time. They know arsenal A-Z. Vermaelen will use these games to learn & experience the barclay pr league.

  43. I think its time for Wenger to be serious and cope up with competition in English premier league because if Wenger dont buy some exprienced players ,he will miss champions league next season.

  44. Arsenal is still among the big four but the problem is still in the midfield plus defence because Gallas is not good as such.
    I think if wenger brings deep six to work hand in hand with denelison & central defender,Arsenal will shine again.
    The striking line is some how good because Eduado is among the best strikers& he can make agood partnership with the Dutch master.
    On the side of wingers,Nasri can play the right wing while Walcot can do well the left wing.

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