It has been a difficult start to life as Arsenal captain for Thomas Vermaelen. The Belgian has been a popular figure at the club since his signing in 2009 and was handed the armband in the summer after the departure of Robin van Persie, but has performed disappointingly so far this season, making a couple of high-profile errors.
In stark contrast, Per Mertesacker has started the campaign very well, defending reliably and scoring his first goal in English football, the crucial equaliser at home to Tottenham. Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielny is probably the best partner for both players: Mertesacker needs a quick player alongside him, while Vermaelen appreciates the Frenchman sweeping up if he loses challenges.
This presents Arsene Wenger with a selection dilemma: Mertesacker is the first centre-back on the teamsheet at the moment, and Koscielny is his natural partner. That wasn’t an issue when Kieran Gibbs was injured, because Vermaelen could move out to left-back. But now Gibbs is available again, and offers a more reliable attacking threat from full-back. At home to Swansea, Arsenal will need someone who can stretch the play, and also a quick player against Swansea’s wing threat.
Vermaelen was omitted from the side that drew at Villa Park last weekend, but with Arsenal facing three league fixtures in eight days, that could be explained by squad rotation. Wenger leaving out his captain for a second consecutive weekend would be significant development; but on form, it’s Mertesacker, Koscielny and Gibbs who deserve to be in the side alongside Bacary Sagna.
This post courtesy of Pick Our Team. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans.