Vermaelen and Arsenal get the short end of the stick

I was chatting with some supporters yesterday and they were saying how the transfer period gets them down because of the commonly held notion that Arsenal “don’t spend” on players. I’ve seen this a lot among Arsenal supporters and I really don’t understand it. With a few exceptions, Arsenal have bought great players every year that I have been an Arsenal supporter: Arshavin, Nasri, Eduardo, Rosicky, and Gallas. We’ve also outbid big names for great future prospects like Walcott and Ramsey. What we don’t do is act like a bunch of buffoons and buy insanely expensive big name players.

A lot of people see reports like “Real are in for Ronaldo” and “Chelsea make surprise bid for Kaka” and wonder why Arsenal aren’t in that mix.  You have to understand, though, 90% of what the football press prints is bullshit. Bullshit designed to make gullible fans salivate over unattainable and unrealistic players. Players who may not add anything more to a team than bragging rights. Is buying Kaka at £50m a guarantee of success? If it was, why didn’t AC Milan win more last year?

There’s also a sense, fueled by the press, that buying players is simple, that buying Yaya Toure is like buying a loaf of bread. That Arsenal just head down to the mini-mart and pick up a Yaya. That’s the way it seems in all the comments. First off, Yaya has a stupidly expensive release clause in his contract, something like £80m. So, Arsenal could force his sale, but at that price they would be seriously foolish. In fact, if they paid £80m for Yaya I would seriously consider whether I want my money going to an enterprise so foolish. So that means that they need to convince the player to leave the lovely coast of Spain, where he just won a treble, including the Champions League, and come to a town that I love dearly, but lets face it, is not the weather, food, or trophy capital of the world. Convincing any big name player to leave is going to take a lot of money, money we don’t have. Hell, Chelsea, Man U and Liverpool don’t have the money either, but they fake it.

So, if you listen to the press Arsenal never buy anyone, but it just isn’t true. Arsenal spend prudently in the market, buying players who fit our system rather than buying dream team players who help fans jerk off to their fantasy team. I’d much rather support a team that I know is going to be in the Premier League for my whole life than have them do something foolish like bring in a Buffon and go down the path of Liverpool.

Which brings me to Vermaelen. Somehow, before we’ve even seen him in a uniform, he’s already being slagged off by “supporters.” Can we even give the guy a chance? I mean, it took me two whole seasons of mediocrity before I was ready to boo Eboue and here is a player who hasn’t signed anything yet and people are already saying he’s “not tall enough” and “not Arsenal quality.”


This is the same pattern when Arsenal sold Henry and brought in Eduardo, everyone got all stabby about Dudu saying he wasn’t Arsenal quality. Well, he clearly is and from what I’ve seen of Vermaelen, I’m thinking he will fit into Arsenal’s system very well. Yes, he’s 1/2″ shorter than Kolo Toure, and a whopping 4″ shorter than our aerial dominators Diaby, Adebayor, Bendtner, and Djourou. But the fact is that our tallest players are pretty poor in the air so height alone is not an indicator of aerial ability. Heading the ball is about timing and about how high you can jump or “hang time” and not about how tall you are. Moreover, defense, and especially defending in the Arsenal system is about strength and speed, which from what I’ve seen he has plenty of.

But you know what? I’m not saying he’ll be Arsenal’s saviour. I’m also not saying he’ll be Arsenal’s goat. I just think he looks a lot like William Gallas to me and William Gallas is Arsenal’s best defender, hands down, so let’s give him a chance.

That is, if he signs with us.

Other players who are not coming to Arsenal

He hasn’t signed anything for anyone yet but with Liverpool squawking about his value being above £23m I’m fairly certain Arsenal can forget about signing Xabi Alonso. Oh well, I like the guy and all but I think we have our Alonso already in Denilson and £25m or whatever they are looking for is stupid money.


  1. In actual fact i think the Gunners do need some ‘big game’ players if we’re gonna compete seriously. Man U destroyed us at the end of the season – Man U don’t have a good midfield {rich coming ffrom a gunner}.
    Back to the stage when Arsenal were invincible – world class players needed or we’ll keep singing the same song every season.

  2. For anyone complaining Vermaelen isn’t tall enough, I would like to remind you about Tim Cahill. He’s 5’10” and regularly beats these 6’5″ defenders in the air. It isn’t all about height – it’s about timing and hard work. Vermaelen has plenty of heart and (being captain of Ajax) knows a thing or two about leadership. He hasn’t even been presented yet but, if they do sign him, let’s give him a chance. I think this environment where we are down on a player before he even arrives might be why we tend to lose players regularly. We are supposed to be SUPPORTERS not critics. Leave that to the washed up players who couldn’t hack it as a coach or, as we know them, pundits.

  3. The fact of the matter is wenger is a genius and he would not spend 10 million de niro’s on a donkey.By the way alonso is over rated if wenger is gonna buy a new man in de middle i think his money be better spent on young stephen ireland

  4. great artticle tim vermaelen would be nicebackup to gallas and toure but not as a regular starter

  5. This is my first post on this site; great job Tim (this post and the blog) and I am going to jump right into it. Since I am fairly new, I don’t know the regulars and what their positions are but, jd and randy, who do you suggest we sign? And what makes you think that Vermaelen is not a “winner” or a “big game player”? I think Tim hit the proverbial nail right on its head when he pointed out that we haven’t even seen Vermaelen play yet. Hell, he hasn’t even signed for us yet. I think we are in danger of becoming stuck in a rut where every single supporter thinks that he or she knows the best signings for Arsenal, and ONLY THOSE signings can make a difference. I am going to be an Arsenal supporter for life, I have time and faith that we will win again (yes, under Arsene), and then you will have your “winners” :).

  6. Ireland. Lol. Must be joking.
    Useless northern cunt – he is so overrated.
    I would like to Gallas stay, but I’m not sure if he will not that Vermealen will sign in a few days time, and plus, If Gallas leaves, King Kolo WILL stay!!!! And I’m sure we all want Kolo to stay!

    I agree, Arsenal need to sign atleast 1 BIG name (experianced) Otherwise all the young gunners will get fed up by next year If we don’t win anything, they will all be OFF! Atleast this way, playing along other big name stars, they might actually have a reason to stay!!!
    Rather than begin packing there bags to Inter or Barca where they can be surrounded by STARS.

    Now Dzeko – I’m sure many of us don’t know too much about Dzeko but Any1 is better than Adebayor, the prick that clearly dont want to play for the club anymore!!!!

    My Predictions:

    Players IN
    Dzeko – Vermealen & possibly Flamini in a PX with Adebayor

    Player OUT
    Silves – Gallas – Adebayor

    My Starting 11 Next Year

    Sagna – Toure – Vermealen – Clichy

    Theo – Febragas – Flamini/Nari – Arshavin

    V.Persie – Dzeko

    Subs – Eduardo – Djourou – Fabianski – Gibbs – Rosicky – Bendy Boy – Eboue

    I have this sneaky feeling that If Arsene does not sign a holding midfielder, he will continue to transform Nasri into Defensive midfielder, which I feel i the wrong as Nasri’s strongest position is attacking the oppostions goals – Just watch the guy on Youtube – He’s brilliant at it!!!!

    Let me no your thoughts on this matter…?

  7. Good article.

    If Toure goes (which in all honest is possible – he isnt as good a defender as Gallas), then Vermaelen will probably sign. Senderos will most likely also go so that leaves us with another defender – possibly Zapata. 4 CB’s of Gallas, Vermaelen, Zapata and Djourou would be good enough for any top 4 team. Having said that I think this situation is unlikely.

  8. I’m also not one to judge a player before they have signed and i think the only reason Vermaelen has got a negative response from arsenal fans is because Tony Adams made a comment about him not being ready for arsenal. That really disappoints me as it has come from someone I have a huge amount of respect for but I’m not sure if he thought through the implications of what he said before he said it. It’s obviously an off-the-cuff remark but has had a huge effect on all the arsenal supporters as they take what he says (especially about defending as gospel).

    I’ve not seen enough of Vermaelen to judge whether the following statement is true but I understand the guy has no left foot. This suggests that he is a right-sided central defender and if anyone leaves then surely it will be Toure and not Gallas. We also have Djourou who is predominantly left sided. I won’t get into a debate about who is better out of toure and gallas because for me they are both exactly the same players- strong, quick but average in the air and make the odd error- especially when the ball is played high down the middle. Therefore one of them has to leave- they are earning too much and wenger will not be content to have a top earner sat on the bench next season. I have a sneaky suspicion toure will be sacrificed for a better balance in defence- not that he is any worse a defender than gallas, but because we already have 2/3 strong LCB’s and only 1 strong RCB.

  9. Good blog Tim and as usual we agree on most things here. However, you conveniently omitted the lack of “world Class” signing last Summer after losing, Diarra, Gilberto, Flamini, Hleib and Lehman while having Eduardo and Rosicky on the seriously injured list. In effect, we were without the services of 7 world class players and replaced them with externally and internally Nasri, Ramsey, Vela, Wilshire, Bischoff, Denilson, Silvestre and Song.

    Up till that point Tim, I had never questioned Arsene’s acquisitions. Was it just one moment of insanity on his part or did his belief in the sons he never fathered make him believe he could take a bunch of inexperienced kids and turn them into world beaters overnight. Either way Tim, last season was Arsene at his worst in compiling a team which could be competitive. Our current team never had a chance of going all the way and the onerous acquisition of Arshavin at the 10th hour in January probably saved us from finishing out of the top four.

    Of the current world class players you mentioned, Rosicky and Eduardo are huge ? marks, RVP has never put in a full season for us and Ade, suffering from a sophomore slump and fan rejection, may never return to his old form in an Arsenal jersey. As a manager, would you be willing to go to battle with so many unanswered questions or would you try to at least answer a few before sending the Cavalry to fight tanks?

    At the end of the day, the report card on our off season acquisitions will depend on the sum of all transactions, in and out. Will his acquisitions be merely replacing outgoing players or will they be in addition to our current squad which increases quality depth and provide realistic backup in key positions.

    Until we see the final result it’s all speculation.

    I also totally agree we should accept all incoming players without question unless he pulls another “Bischoff”. Acquiring Bischoff on a professional contract last year really made me rethink my previously unwavering belief in Arsene’s genius. Not only was he injured for the previous 2 years, he had only made 1 1st team appearance for his club and then we gave him a 1 year contract. Not only did we pay him good wages, but we paid all of his medical bills to bring him back to health so he can now leave on a Bosman because he is not getting enough playing time.

    Like I said, come July we can file the final report card. Until then, I will be unwavering in my support of Arsene and most of all, Arsenal.

  10. Good article as usual Tim, jd and Randy are Man U fans it seems (joke). When we lost to Man U and Chelski there are other factors which I feel made more of a contribution, like the ommitence of of our stalwart midfielder denilson, injuries to one half of our 21 game unbeaten defense (Gallas and Clichy) plus Almunia for the FA cup and inexplicably Arshavin for most of that game (!?!?!?!). We were dominated by Man U in the first leg that much is obvious but we played a containment formation and held them to a one goal loss.

    In the 2nd leg however we had them on the ropes, until two mistakes, yes mistakes that any player of any calibre can make, just unfortunate for us the occasion was a big one.

    We have plenty “winners” on our team, and to be honest I’m getting sick of idiotic “supporters” comparing us to other teams like Man U saying we have to do what they do and over spend on bench warmers, Arsenal have arguably the best financial system in the premier league and I like it to stay that way so we can continue to compete. I look forward to seeing how this new defender will fit in and I agree you don’t need height to be good in the air.

    Van Persie and/or Adebayor are gonna go, that’s my feeling anyway. I hope Wenger reverts to our old style of play next season too, this “hopeful long ball to a lone striker” thing is really not working for us. I see a Vela/Eduardo partnership as being the way forward (mouthwatering prospect). I’d actually rather be updated on our injured players than hear about transfers to be honest, Rocky should nearly be ready, I also want to know whats going on with Dudu, Gael and Willy.

  11. Very good blog and I agree with all your points (except the one about Gallas at the end). Give the guy a chance ffs. And let’s look, as you said, at our best players over recent years, we didn’t break the bank for Henry, Pires, Ljunberg, Cesc, Theo, Bergkamp….the list goes on, and would you swap any of those for a Kaka/Ronaldo/Messi and all the drama they bring with them? I think not.

    I see what Wenger is doing, he is building team the way Fergie did with the treble winning team of 99, and look how they have dominated Engalnd since. Only difference in this team, and the United team of 99 is they had the luck, I believe this will be a better team, and if we can keep the injuries down to a minimum we have everychance in every competition. Buying a midfielder wouldn’t hurt tho :p

  12. Well LadyArse I think you’re half right, with the difference being that Fergie spent ALOT of money on flops and fringe players along the way. I firmly believe that if Wenger had the kind of resource readily available as Fergie does, Arsenal could dominate as ManU does now. Look at the money Fergie has spent on the likes of Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani, Berbatov – all players who have had their worth questioned since their move and haven’t really impressed. Wenger cannot afford to do that with Arsenal and endanger their financial success. I don’t think Arsene is cheap but shrewd and like Wenger, I don’t believe there’s many players in the world worth 20M pounds, yet many are getting paid that much to be mediocre. In any case it’s still early in the silly season and we should focus on the transfers one at a time as they come.

  13. Heading capability is definitely not about height. But a lot to do with timing, balance and athleticism. Will a player at 6″ 2′ outjump a player of 6″ maybe yes, maybe no. There are too many other factors for anyone to call that, and too may exceptions.

    As for big names, do you want to sign a big name with a big salary demand, and an even bigger ego, ‘Le Boss’ doesn’t do big wages, not in the crazy zone, neither does he do big egos!

    If success was solely dependant on big names, how come big teams with big names crash virtually every season to minnows in the FA Cup. Perhaps we should develop some measure for belief and desire, along with the skill.

    I believe for every successful big transfer, there is a corresponding dodo, perhaps more dodos. Look at the Mancs bench.

    In every team there has to be a mix, star performers yes, but also the watercarriers, the footsoldiers, the thing you have to be sure of, is that they are damn good ones. This I believe is what ‘Le Boss’ strives for, which is not about big transfers, but about the right player. Easier said than done.

    As for what he will do in the transfer market, he has his plans, and strategies. One thing for sure, he won’t tell you and me what they are. Except in the broadest and most general terms. we have to remember that what he says is not just for fans consumption, but part of a greater strategy, that includes, other players, other managers, and agents, and also our current squad.


  14. I think if Vermaelen arrives it spells the departure of toure, he would be the new ch, but I would also like to see zapata join us as well, which i think could happen especially if gallas departs.

    As for the forwards, we have qualities, but like much of the team there are chemistry problems, not one pairing of our strikers has seemed to work very well last season. As such i would buy both dzeko and grafite who together formed a devastating partnership. I would shed no tears at the lucrative departures of both rvp and ade.

    As for the midfield i’m not prepared to gloss over the obvious problems and i don’t believe diaby, denilson and song will emerge as much improved players in the next two years and begin dominating the league, i just don’t see that from these players. And as the underperforming midfield in many respects adversely affected both our offensive and defensive performances this is an area that requires much improvement. Wenger is unlikely to undertake these bold changes and will probably only bring in two at most three players, likely a name or two not considered here.

    If pool suffer financial problems that limit their transfer activity they may sputter a bit next year but still remain in the top four. Citeh is not slowing down but are yet still a year away at least from the top four and chels look to be active as usual, in this scenario, i think it is most likely that wenger will bring in just enough that we have a good chance to maintain our top four status- a forward and maybe two defenders, again depending on players leaving.

  15. Great site – amazingly bile-free and idiot-free. How do you manage to keep the Wenger-knows-shite brigade in ignorance of your existence? Or have I spoken too soon?

    Help please:
    Now it looks like he’s coming, is there a Dutch speaker out there who can tell us how to pronounce Vermaelen? It’s the ae in the middle that defeats me – oy? eye? ay?

    Agree with much that’s been said, but Denilson as good as Alonso? I acknowledge he’s improving but to my mind he’s still a long way from emerging into anything in particular. I mean, he’s not the monster many people are calling for; he doesn’t rush about imposing himself, Flam-style, and break up the play; he’s not the invisible wall who fills up the spaces like Gilberto did; above all, he’s not a potential playmaker who can thread the ball through the eye of a needle (i.e. a Cesc, a Hleb, an Arteta, etc.). So what’s the point of him exactly? What role is he being groomed for? I heard Wenger say once that he saw Ramsay as a potential holding midfielder, ‘a future Roy Keane’. Not sure about that. And anyway, for potential I’d put my money on Cocquelin. I love that little player. Every time I’ve seen him he’s looked like a star.

  16. [youtube=]

    If any proof were needed that next season will be a better one

  17. cannavaro at point was arguably the best defender in the world. and he isn’t the tallest of defenders. give the man a chance i say. we all know wenger can pick em

  18. Bongo’s right – Fair-mah-lan – have just heard a Dutch journalist on the radio. Described him as very aggressive, especially with headers, which he invariably wins; plays the Ajax way and defends high up the pitch. Sounds just the job.

    Brilliant: Gibbs scored twice this evening for the under-21s.

  19. @Caribkid and Tim:
    His physique is very much in the mold of a DM. I agree that he can be used in this position and we can keep both Gallas and Toure. Though I doubt if we can hold on to both CBs.

    Maldini was only 6ft 1in and has served both club and country efficiently. Defensive headers are all timing and to see the game 3 moves before it unfolds. Thats how great players get to the right place at the right time.

  20. Kaka is now a Real Madrid player. This now opens the proverbial can of worms in terms of transfers. Ronaldino will fit into the Kaka role so they will be looking for that ultimate striker.

    Will AC Milan now go after Dzeko, Etoo, Ade or Villa. This in turn will start the transfer chain reaction, so things should start humming in the next few days.

  21. most of u idiots make me luff, don’t u have a pub to go to so u can wank afterwards, i mean damn , i think some of u bacame fans of arsenal when arshavin hit the insolvents for 4, (many days do they have b4 they bust their guts out en we get alonso 4 free) then watched man iou rip us apart en thouhgt oh no wut a useless team. well boys progress is a slow process, but i hav seen it coming, i must admit wenger made a mistake by not re-inforcing the middlefield, he blames the defence, but for me, the middle field just did’ have steel. Next year is the make or break year for, it will define wenger and his way of thinkin’. As for buying players with s#$%t load of money, nah it don’t make sense,most of the time it’s a waste of our time en money, here is a list of waste( Nani 18 mil, Joe 18 mil, Robino 32 mil, Bebatov 32 mil bendner scored more goals than him ha ha ha en many other wasetes.

Related articles