One man doesn’t make a team..or does he? Arsenal fans have been saying that their ‘collapse’ of dramatic proportions wouldn’t have happened if they had Belguim centre back Thomas Vermaelen for the whole season.
The heart of the defence has been a real issue (as always) for the Gunners, with Sebastien Squillaci being contender for worst signing of the season, Johan Djourou prone to at least six ‘air kicks’ a game and Laurent Koscielny despite an improved second half on the season, is still prone to errors. Vermaelen can’t cover two centre back slots, so one of the error prone three would have to ‘support’ the Belgium international in the middle, however it is Vermaelen’s influence upon his partner that would have been key. Arsenal’s defenders’ often run round like headless chickens but a calm, assured and strong Vermaelen would have no doubt improved his fellow centre backs’ games.
A ‘spine’ is key in any team, the Invincibles had Jens Lehmann, Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira and Theirry Henry. Thomas Vermaelen no doubt since his arrival has been the Campbell equivalent with regards to to the ‘spine’ of the team, and maintaining the ‘spine’ is key in achieving success. The former Ajax player’s absence for more or less the whole season, weakened the ‘structure’ and the core of Arsenal’s team. Having Vermaelen for the whole season, would have given Arsenal a stronger and more assured edge to their play.
The Gunners aren’t overloaded with strong and dominant players so when you lose one of your few leaders, it is always going to effect your team. Defensive mix ups have been frequent throughout this season and I can’t help but think that a commanding Vermaelen would have eradicated, not all, but several of the costly errors by implementing a bit of authority across the back line.
Thomas Vermaelen’s availability this season would have been crucial, not necessarily a one man crusade to winning the Quadruple, as Arsenal have many more deep rooted problems, but the Belgium international would have definitely gained Arsenal points they stupidly threw away. You can’t see the Gunners throwing away five points against arch rivals Spurs when having a two goal advantage (twice) or drawing 4-4 with Newcastle when 4-0 up with Vermaelen in the starting line up.
Having Vermaelen’s ability at their disposal would have been a huge positive for Arsenal this season, but there is no way that having the former Ajax man would have filled up the Arsenal trophy cabinet after six barren season, at best his inclusion would have meant Arsenal would have remained in the title race for longer.