It’s been a rough few days for Belgium international and Arsenal captain, Thomas Vermaelen; an own goal scored - credited to Jefferson Farfan - gave Schalke their equalizer against the Gunners in the Champions League while two calamitous mistakes a few days earlier against Manchester United were the highlight of his game as ex Arsenal captain, Robin van Persie profited off one of the mistakes to score for the table toppers against his former club.
This begs the questions – is Vermaelen really captain material? Can a captain constantly keep making mistakes? Should someone else have been captain such as the current vice-captain, Mikel Arteta?
Many were in favour of Vermaelen succeeding van Persie as Arsenal captain – he was passionate, fierce and very much a leader, being vocal during games. However, he hasn’t emulated these qualities at all this season since becoming the new skipper. And with Arsenal in a poor run of form, the Belgian’s errors and mistakes are even more visible – Vermaelen always made errors, it’s just that because of his ferocity and knack of going forward and scoring goals that fans didn’t see or rather ignored his negative points. He’s a good defender no doubt, but he makes way too many silly errors as well as leaving the defense exposed when he surges forward.
Another con with Vermaelen as captain is the inability to rotate the centre backs – after a while, Arsenal finally have three top class centre backs and yet, only Vermaelen is remaining in the lineup. Per Mertesacker has been immense this season while Laurent Koscielny has unfairly been dropped to the bench, with this, taking a toll on his performances. Koscielny and Mertesacker may be Arsenal’s best potential partnership but no one will never know with Vermaelen as captain – the Frenchman has made a few errors this season as well like Vermaelen, however, with a run of games, he’ll find his consistency, after all, he was Arsenal’s best defender last season. It’s illogical, however, to drop your captain – a captain should be the first name on the team sheet and right now, Vermaelen isn’t the best defender at the club.
Captaincy usually helps up someone’s game – we saw this with van Persie as he relished the responsibility last season but the same cannot be said about Vermaelen. This is especially surprising as Vermaelen captained his previous club, Ajax as well as the Belgian national team for a period of time.
The Daily Mirror’s John Cross echoed the same thoughts: “Thomas Vermaelen has taken on the armband and he’s having a wretched season. Some players grow with the armband; that certainly happened with Robin van Persie with his performance and responsibility, but I think Vermaelen hasn’t shouldered it well. I think Arsène Wenger thought long and hard about giving it to [Mikel] Arteta, who is perhaps the outstanding candidate. He may not look like a loud, bubbly warrior but he’s fantastic on the pitch and really good in the dressing room, and Arsenal don’t have enough players like that.”
Arteta certainly would have been a better candidate – he makes the team tick, is probably the first person on the teamsheet and is valued both by his teammates as well as Wenger. Whenever Arsenal have a bad result, it’s never Vermaelen but always Arteta who comes out and speaks on the result, telling the fans that Arsenal will show character and bounce back. It’s no coincidence that players like Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere judge Arteta as the leader of the team.
At this point, it’s evident that Koscielny must play – will Wenger drop Vermaelen? Or this just a rough patch of form for the Belgian? Either way, performances must improve as this is Arsenal’s worst start to a league season in the Wenger era – Vermaelen should show right now that he is the leader of the team and prove why Wenger chose him to succeed van Persie.864922