How will Vermaelen’s return affect Arsenal?

With Thomas Vermaelen set to return in some measure in the Carling Cup this evening, either from the start or off the bench, it will pose a rather welcome selection problem for Arsene Wenger.

The question is: how should he handle it?

Will it be Per Mertesacker who drops out or Laurent Koscielny? Or will Vermaelen return to cover the left side of the back four, a position he takes up as the captain of Belgium?

For my money Koscielny is the form defender in our back-four and, given our recent performances, is probably undroppable right now.

Additionally, Mertesacker’s height is beginning to show — he handled Crouch with some aplomb on the weekend — and a return to a Koscielny-Vermaelen could see a return to an old problem that we now seem to have solved.

So should Vermaelen play on the left? Does it make the most sense?

Rather than give you a definitive answer — an opinion which might come out in the comments if the discussion goes far enough — I’d love to hear your opinion.

Spread the Arsenal love by leaving a comment.



  1. Koscielny and Vermaelen will be the new and much better version of Vidic and Ferdinand.

  2. This is the most welcome headache in years.

    I was strongly against playing Verm as a LB, but with Gibbs out, for the time being I’d like to see :

    Santos – BFG – Kos – Verm

    Djourou isn’t a right back, neither is Coquelin.

  3. Hi Drew, Hi all
    One-nil There you are old boy!
    I think Vermaelen should be paired with DJ and the Kos/BFG duo should be left intact.
    They have chemistry and are finally getting comfortable with each other to the point where they can anticipate. Both TV5 and DJ have been out most of the year, give them a little time together in the cup runs and the least dangerous EPL matches until they come up to speed. Eventually I see BFG and TV5 as the first choice but time and circumstance will have to dictate that.
    Did anyone see that Kolo is looking to leave Man$ity? I guess all that money couldn’t buy him playing time and he’s eying a deal with PSG.
    Would I be alone in thinking that he would be a good stop-gap acquisition for us especially since his Nemesis one William Gallas is no longer around.
    I think this has no real chance but I did like Kolo and he does have heart. How much pace is still in his 30 year old legs may be a question but there could be no doubt that he has to be faster than Sol was and he did a tolerably good job for us in the pinch.

  4. Very good question, be interesting to see if any of them play in Carling Cup as depends how Wenger views the Carling Cup this time. Maybe Vermaelen might look to get some match fitness and Mertesacker could probably do with a midweek rest, although his height might come in use vs Bolton.

    Going forward, I would like to see Koscielny played at right back to accomodate the 3 of them and although it would probably reduce the attacking nature of Jenkinson, it would allow the left back to push on, especially if that Santos.
    Be so good to have Vermaelen back, just hope he slots back in as the player from 2 years ago.

  5. Didn’t arsene wenger say just last friday “vermealen is back in training but is short on fitness but should return in two weeks”! or are we never to believe wenger again and do you have some inside knowledge that tells you otherwise?

  6. we needn’t to decieve ourselves.It’s just obviouus that presently,the present best CB in arsenal is koscielny.There is no question of asking who will pair TV5 rather our question should be ‘who partner’s koscielny’.my back 4 shd be DJ-TV5-KOS-SANT.

  7. A. Santos for left, vermaelen for 6, mertesacker for 5 and coscielny for right back. Believe me, this is d best selection.

  8. Vermaelen should play right back! If he plays left for Belgium i dont se any reason for him not to adapt quickly in order to play on the right 🙂 Djourou has proved over and over again how useless he is!

    Santos – Koscielny – Mertesacker – Vermaelen!

  9. TV5 is a versatile defender who should not be restricted to one side of the game. He should be given central role to allow him move left, right and front. Koscielny can play in Djourou position well. therfore;
    Santos – TV5 – Mertesacker – Koscielny!

  10. I think kos is our best defender for now but i still believe tv5 and metersaker will offer us what really want.

  11. i feel that varm shul juz join the defense on the left no one btw per en kosc shul be dropped a gd job while u wa verm was away, so i bliv its goin 2 be the best in the EPL

  12. These three guys are wonderful but the two of them now(per materseker and koscienly) are really in good form.Well i will advice sir arsene to let these guys prove their each other right but the demons we’ve already known is far better than new angel.

  13. come on guys, be nice for once……….. There has been considerable improvement from Djorou in recent times.
    So my take is that the current back four remain as they are at the moment while Vermaleen regains match fitness ,but if any one should drop to the bench,then it will be massacar or sorry meterserker……. I think he is so slow…….please watch that OM vs Arsenal match again you will see how easy it is for Ayew to pass him what now happens when he faces Drogba.
    Well I know he’s got the hieght but he needs to pick up his pace to really get a place at the back 4
    Gunner all the way!!!

  14. I believe any introduction of anybody to the current centre back will derail the stability and partnership we are already seeing btw BFG and kos. I think TV5 should be giving more time to gain match fitness and if he had to be use i think the back line should be like dis kos – BFG – TV5 – santos. it’s only my opinion,don’t knw what others thinks.

  15. Well, Arsene once said Kol could play as right back, and since we need Per’s height, it will be great to see TV5 and Per, partner each other in the midle, while Kol takes the right back position. Santos can take the left

  16. This is something that have thinking about before now. His come back will be a relieve that in case of injury we have a capable back up, haven said that, i think the understanding building up between per and kol should be allow to mature while TV5 take over from Djouru at right back

  17. You all got it wrong the back 4 (or 2CB) shld not change since it has begun to jel.
    Remenber Wenger said TV5 can play infront of the two CB
    the back will look like this

    Dj BFG Kos Santos
    and will have the best defence in EPL

  18. Santos has proved to be a talented left back with magical ball control and Wenger should never try to leave him out of arsenal squad.

  19. And the next question should be who should abou diaby replace when he equally comes take is theo walcott nd ramsy push to his theo should be relegated to bench to learn his lesson.

  20. I hope Larry above me is joking. Diaby does not walk into our current email.

    The back four isnt even a question at the moment. I think it stays as it is for the next month. Except in carling cup games ofcourse where fringe players get a run. TV5 wont be starting against bolton and he may get 10 or so minutes at the end of the match if required… There is no point rushing him back for the kick and giggle cup when the PL season is only young and we will need him for the next 30 or so games so we can grab that top 4 spot.

    In saying all that JD isnt the answer at right back, but for now we need his solidarity of staying back and primarily defending. Jenkinson is still very raw and he goes forward in his swashbuckling style that he leaves the right side quite open…

    And for people saying kos should play right back…. If you notice the way he plays he is excellent at anticipating n the middke, its a completely different kettle of fish at RB… his anticpation at right back only has to be slightly off and the opposition are in behind us.. If he is off in the middle Per is still close by to help.

    The best backline we can eventually have is

    Sagna-kos-TV5- santos/Gibbs

    Santos and gibbs are much for much in my opinion…

    And we have a bench of Per, the squid,JD and miquel is still learning…. Its a good problem to have and per will play more of the euro cup games than kos.. And against the tokes and blackburns of this world.

    Anyway let the convo keep flowing..

  21. Don’t rush him back. Kos and Merton need to be given the chance to establish themselves. I think they bring different attributes that can complement each other. One has pace the other has height but they both read the game well. Kos needs to cut out the stupid losses of concentration that he has been prone to. Left back may be his best bet.

  22. I wouldn’t stick TV back in at left back. The extra running required in the flank might be a bit of a gamble to a guy coming back off an injury. Especially considering his recent injury record. Id rather have santos play his natural position and deal with a problem at right back. One problem is better than two……
    Stick JD at right back. If he stays fit, he’d have got some much needed game time and if he doesn’t, i’d rather he picked up an injury than TV.

  23. As for me I wl prefer kos 2 b move 2 d right back and Santos @ left back so dat we cn av ver and mertesacker as d back 5 and 6

  24. @Terry
    I agree with you especially your postioning but it’s a long old season and at some point we will have to take chances with JD and squid if only for the sake of resting our better defenders. Plus, Johan is still young and may in time improve. Some of the same complaints I see written by others above(useless?) are similar to the ones about Song a few years back and no doubt he has turned into a player.
    Anyway, 6 hours to game time so we won’t have long to see who AW selects.

  25. “Wow” to a lot of these comments. Do we forget how our back 4 was in shambles before Per arrived? Koscielny is now some kind of hero? Does it occur to anyone that the reason Koscielny has looked better in form is because of Per? The big german is a natural leader who is an organizer, he calms the people around him and if you are able to observe the game properly and understand defensive principles you will see that Per also takes up some fantastic positions when supporting his right back and fellow center half. Koscielny is NOT the untouchable default many claim him to be in this post and in fact the question is whether he should be dropped for Vermaelen or not. Koscielny still takes up horrifying positions (too flat, plays offside trap when no pressure is on ball, and does not consistently track runners to his box) and takes unnecessary risks, do not be deceived just because he has a high work rate and is aggressive on the tackle. I like Koscielny and he has a bright, bright future; Vermaelen however is our answer with Per now and although there is more competition for places (welcome problem we have not had in quite some time) there is no real choice who #1 and #2 are as a partnership. Vermaelen and Koscielny are similar players, but Vermaelen with more experience and better physique is far better with his positioning, stronger on the tackle, and unbeatable in the air. Couple that with the Vice Captain’s leadership alongside the leader and organizer in Mertesacker–you have a true duo in the middle who complement each other best since they have different qualities. You would see Vermaelen take risk on the tackle situationally, slightly ahead of Mertesacker, as the big German keeps the ship moving in the right direction with organization and positional awareness. Vermaelen, more technical and even able to play in the midfield also will be a danger bombing forward on an inside overlap when a center half needs to carry the play. This tactical advantage because of the play Vermaelen offers pushes our midfield trio higher up the pitch and asks defenders “do I stay or do I step,” which will open up the fantastic movement of RVP and our wingers. I am quite certain Wenger knows Vermaelen/Mertesacker is his long-term partnership. I for one have my mouth watering at the prospect.

  26. Agree with Todd and Terry.
    Big fuckin German(BFG) and Vermaelen should be the ones to start, but there is really no need to rush Verm back now cos Kos is doing very well now. Remember when we were praying Djourou never gets injured back in December? Now, we dont even want Djourou in the reserves. I dont want the same thing to happen to Kos, but we NEED Vermaelen in the team(if he is fit). Do we play 3-6-1, 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 like Barcelona? In other words, until Sagna comes back, we have to introduce Vermaelen somehow at right-back, left-back, or defensive midfield. I would personally prefer midfield, so ONLY two other fit and agile midfielders complement him in our 4-3-3 formation. Song is always a constant here. So, either of Ramsey, Arteta or Rosicky can play at any time.

  27. I would have Kos always in cb(barring injuries/suspensions) and partner w/Merter or TV depending on the opponent- Route 1 long high balls-Merter, and teams that play, TV. I believe the back 4 are beginning to play as a unit, sad to see us lose both rb at same time though.

  28. Personally, I would tend to agree that TV5 and PM4 would be our ideal partnership, currently with koscielny at right back and santos at left. Maybe once Sagna and Gibbs are fit again, koscielny can move up and play DM: he has all the attributes to do so.
    Anyway, hope for a good result tonight and a strong performance from Ignasi Miquel — i think this guy has tremendous potential.

  29. I agree that TV5 and PM4 would be our ideal partnership, maybe with koscielny at right back and santos at left (that is, at present). Maybe once Sagna and Gibbs are fit again, koscielny can move up and play DM: he has all the attributes to do so.
    Anyway, hope for a good result tonight and a strong performance from Ignasi Miquel — i think this guy has tremendous potential.

  30. @Todd
    No Todd, I have not forgotten and I agree that Kos’s revival owes much to his partnership with Per tree.I also think this pairing should remain as much as possible intact, But as nicely as they are coming along (and I think Santos should be added to that equation) we will need other defensive pairings.
    Based on last year’s performances I don’t think TV5 and Kos work that well together and I would prefer the Belgian to partner the Swiss Miss at least until JD gets comfortable again and reproduces some of the performances he had before last year’s Carling Cup final fiasco.
    What to do with Squillaci though? He,Denilson and Almunia were my 3 least favorite last year and of them only the Squid remains. Is he an out and out mistake or will he show some steel and change our minds? I dunno but for the sake of the club I will keep as open a mind as possble and hope for the best.He is still after all, one of ours.
    BTW: does anybody have a link to today’s cup tie or will I have to break down and purchace the Arsenal(truth serum) player.

  31. First row sports has something called “video commentary”.
    I tried 3 times in vain to paste the link but this site will not allow it for some reason unbeknownst to me.
    Anyway i have never used it but I’m desperate so I’m trying.
    Good luck and COYG!!!!

  32. Hi gooners I am having to watch manu vs somethiing call aldershot town, I got 3 soccer channels but they still show league cup game manu again same thing happen last time.

  33. Arsenal sub bench looks fully with no name brands,either does the eleven that’s playing while bolton even though struggling brought there well known players with them,wenger leaves me puzzle,so definitely there should be no excuse to lossing to chelsea, becoz wenger has been doing this for some time without great success.

  34. @ the flyingdutchmen
    Hey dutch try that first row sports. It gives you the Arsenal player audio with the replay video following. You can google it easily.
    2-1 us now. Commie-dog scored the first and set Park up for a second a sparkler of a goal..

  35. I think that TV should play right back and leave Mertz and Kos where they are. They look like they are finally getting comfortable with each other. Why mess with what is working for you. Play Santos at LB and the back four is looking real good. Just need to get someone creative in the midfield and Arsenal are good to go.

  36. Biggunz ,tv must play in cback position don’t be fool by the games that we playing and winning as the defence was not really under pressure for some time now,real test is that chelski game

  37. Well we keep rolling along. Can we play every match at the Emirates please? perhaps the boss’ vote of confidence this week will do Arshavin well. I know he’s disappointed plenty of fans, but jeez, doesn’t he seem to have a knack for big goals (the barca game obviously, but I also remember a nifty strike down 2-nil at west brom when last year’s campaign still looked salvageable)?

    Originally I would have said it should be Per and Verm in the center hands down, a combo I’ve been waiting to see since we got the big kraut. But Kos has played decently enough lately and I think we can all agree it should be djouru who should be odd man out. If Verm has the experience out wide, i can live with verm/kos/per/santos till bacary comes back.

    @leftcoastgooner and flyingdutchman
    First row sports dot tv (you’re right, no links)
    That site has been the best option for league cup matches so far this season. For some reason I feel like last year I had no trouble finding live streams for the c-cup but this year i’ve been listening to the video commentary- its like listening on the radio- and watching the replay at 5pm (10pm gmt)

  38. Omi gosh,andre arshavin was absolutely fantastic playing in the central midfield role,why oh why do we not play him there,after tonite i got no doubt thats where he is more effective.

  39. I caught vid clips of the goals – Park finished the second goal nicely.

    Anyone actually see the game? Would like to know who played well. Grauniad report very sketchy.

    First big test for a while coming up against a fired up Chelski who will be pissed at losing to QPR and the way they lost. Torres will be targeting the BFG I reckon to run at him – that’s where he is vulnerable, and Cole bombing down our left up against a makeweight right back is a scary prospect. If Walcott is playing he better up his game and track back or we are in trouble.

    But I feel hopeful we can nick a result and that will really make me feel we have turned a corner. Right now we are at the lights with the indicator on!

    Noon kick off in London which means I can watch it at a respectable time down under.

  40. @Terry
    Yeah Mr.T. I saw the game. Arshavin was MOTM for me. Hard to believe but true. He looked a natural in the Cesc role ran at the defenders and dished off well. He took a couple of wild shots but all in all did surprisingly well.
    Squilacci was promising in second half but Park was really sparkled. He could have had a hatrick but for a couple or really tight offside calls that would have otherwise left him one v. one with the Bolton keeper. Ox looked a bit off,Frimp and Coq understandably a bit rusty. Benayoun did a lot of running and covering, stuff Song usually does no glory but important work none-the-less.
    TV5 looked solid and left with what looked like an injury after being kicked by Muamba but he later tweeted that he just had a cramp.
    I’m watching the Chelsea/QPR replay right now and they have at least as many problems at the back if not more than we do. John Terry makes BFG look like Usane Bolt and David Luiz is utterly lost. Drogba’s two footer means we won’t even see him kitted-up. I think we have a good chance and after last week the pressure will be on them. Another big plus of today is we clearly have in J.Y.Park another quality striker.
    Well worth the wait really.

  41. It was still a silly move to start TV5… He came off with apparent cramp but is undergoing tests tomorrow and will most likely come up short for saturday.. which may be a blessing in disguise as we should not rush him back…

    The squid looked solid as well. And Arshavin in the middle looked like he belonged there.. You can see this year that he is playing more centrally hen he is even playing on the left or right.. drifting in more than prevvious years which is working this shows with our third goal against stoke..

    I said when we signed park that he will be more quality than everyone expects being from aus we see him play for korea quite a bit and he is top quality….obviously still settling but after today he needs more game time quickly i feell.

  42. For those of us who say TV should play right-back, can we please suggest what happens when Sagna comes back?

    Finally, Park is far better than Chamakh is the verdict. I am vindicated.

  43. Thanks Leftcoast. Let’s hope that Park gets ahead of Chamakh in the pecking order and is given a chance in the EPL and CL games.

    Also, I am going to the USofA soon Over the east coast. Will I be able to watch the Arse games over there?

  44. @gunnerboss

    There is no way that sagna shouldnt start as our right back when he comes back. He has been our most consistent quality back for the last 2-3 seasons. He is an international right back.

    TV5 is a natural left footed and left sided player. To put him at right back is a silly move..

  45. Very interesting Boris, are you quoting what I did not say? Very funny using me to explain to them what my question is. An ally of mine, I guess.
    Thanks Boris

  46. @Terry
    Mr.T I left New England in the mid 70’s and go back for weddings,funerals and baptisims.
    However,I’m sure you could find a list of USA Arsenal supporters or east coast gooners.
    If by some chance you should come out west I would hope you would let me know.
    Does anyone know if Vermaelen is or is not available for Saturday?
    BTW: Chavs had to play extra time and their #2 goalie picked up a red card so if (god forbid) Anything should happen to Cech they will go down to number 3.
    @ Terry There is the site “Arsenal America” They have links to gooner pubs throughout the states but they are also linked to “Le Grove” so make of that what you will.

  47. Your way of telling all in this post is truly nice, every one be able to simply understand it, Thanks a lot.

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