Arsene Wenger believes Thomas Vermaelen is on a par with teammates Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny and claimed that picking between the centre-back trio poses him the same challenge he had when Martin Keown, Tony Adams and Steve Bould were on the books at the start of his Arsenal tenure.
The Belgian international made his long-awaited comeback from injury against Sunderland at the weekend having spent much of pre-season struggling with a back injury.
Although his absence hasn’t overly affected the balance of the defence, Bacary Sagna doing a fine job when called upon in the middle, the club captain’s return still provides a boost as the fixtures start to pile up.
“It is fantastic to have him back, as a character and a player. Everyone is happy that he is back,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.
“He has gone through a difficult period but he is a great player, and will show that now that he is completely fit and available.
“He is naturally a left-sided player, more than anybody else. His natural position is there and I like to have a central defence where you have a right-footed player and a left-footed player. That is why I always build around Thomas.
“For the rest, he has all the attributes of a good centre back because he has the physical qualities and the technical qualities and the experience to read the game.
“He is a natural player, but sometimes you cannot be too complicated. It worked until now and we have another candidate as well in Sagna. Every game he has played there, he has done extremely well. So we have four good centre backs.”
Reflecting on the potential selection quandary ahead, assuming Vermaelen shrugs off his occasional suicidal lapses in concentration, the boss went as far as to reference the central components of the Gunners famous back four of the nineties and noughties.
“Yes, it is a bit like that,” he continued. “The one who didn’t play [the decision] was not justifiable.
“In the end we played the three together in some games, but when I moved to a back four we were always in a position where you had to make a choice.
“I rotated and at some stage every time I made a decision [about who] was left out, I thought ‘it is not right’.”
Arseblog News welcomes the return of the skipper and trusts he can regain the confidence that saw him shine in his first two-years at the club.12,495 views