The only member of the Arsenal team who has started more Premier league games this season than the captain Thomas Vermaelen is Santi Cazorla, The Belgian defender also started all six of the group games in the Champions league, outlining his experience and importance to Arsene Wenger. It could be a disaster for the Gunners if he misses the next European game, in a week’s time against the runaway leaders of the German Bundesliga, Bayern Munich.
For the second time this season, Vermaelen has been given an injection by the Arsenal medical team in order to bring down the swelling on his problematic ankle. The idea is for him to do some light training with the squad this week, but he will almost certainly be rested for the FA cup fifth round match against Blackburn Rovers.
The reason he is so crucial for the Bayern game, although Arsenal fans are desperate to win a trophy and the FA cup seems to be our best bet, is that Vermaelen can play as the left back, and we are in real danger against the threat of Arjen Robben or Thomas Muller on the right. Even if Koscielny cannot play in the game, I expect Vermaelen to play on the left.
Sagna did well in the middle against Sunderland, so it would be better to play him there if Koscielny is injured. His last ditch tackles and clearances in front of goal could be vital, while our best choice for left back is Vermaelen. He may not get forward as much, but his main job is to protect the flank and that’s what he is good at.
Whatever it takes, the physios need to get our captain fit to run out on to the Emirates pitch just over a week from now.