Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Vermaelen focused on the final, not his future

Arsenal held an official media open day ahead of Saturday’s Cup Final and Tim Stillman went along for Arseblog News to empty the London Colney coffee machine and pocket the free biscuits.

Gunners skipper Thomas Vermaelen enters the press room at London Colney with that impossibly steely eyed stare that has almost become a trademark. There are few that execute a workable ‘blue steel’ better than the Belgian. Vermaelen’s serious expression is well earned. The captain, sporting some tape just above his right knee, faces a race against time to be fit for Saturday’s F.A. Cup Final with Hull City.

“Everybody knows how special a cup final is,” he tells assembled members of the press, “Every player wants to play in a final. I am trying my best to be fit for Saturday.”

Even if he is passed fit, the former Ajax defender knows he is still likely to watch the match from the same vantage point that he has viewed most of the season from. The substitutes’ bench.

It’s Arsenal’s FA Cup final media open day, three days before the Wembley showpiece. This is basically an opportunity for the press and the official Arsenal media outlets to obtain interviews and hunt for soundbites en masse before the squad goes into lockdown ahead of the Final. Predictably, many of the questions focus on Arsenal’s nine year trophy drought. Vermaelen remains patient and unaffected as the inquiries focus expressly on the pressure that Arsenal players will be under,

“We know there has been a lot of talk about us not winning trophies. It’s very important to win this. We know it would give us a boost in the coming years. There is a lot of potential in this team and we have good players, so it would give them confidence for the future.”

Perhaps picking up on the word “them,” he is pressed about whether he belongs to that Arsenal future. Vermaelen is non-committal, “My future is not important at the moment. My focus is on the final,” before batting away a follow up question on the same subject, “My future is not important at the moment.”

The past gets similarly short shrift, when quizzed as to whether the Birmingham final of 2011 would feature in conversation amongst the squad this week, “Every game is different, so we don’t talk about that. That was in the past, but we’ll try to make sure that doesn’t happen again. It was a very disappointing result, everybody knows that. We can’t think about that, Saturday is a different game.”

Assessing the press pack with a straight bat, Vermaelen dismisses the idea that the pressure on Saturday will make the final markedly different to this Arsenal squad, “Look,” he says with a semi shrug, “When you play for Arsenal, there is always pressure. The players are used to playing under pressure because we have to win in every single game. So Saturday won’t be different because the pressure is always there. We know what we have to do on Saturday.”

It’s only at the end of the conference that his composure cracks for a second. A journalist asks politely whether his colleagues can ask some questions in French. Vermaelen stares blankly for a second, “French? No I don’t speak French.”

“Sorry. Flemish. Can we ask some questions in Flemish?” The journalists asks, correcting himself.. Vermaelen visibly relaxes again and fields questions in his native tongue. Having been quizzed at length over the 2011 Carling Cup Final, Arsenal’s trophy drought, his future and his fitness, it was possibly a relief to Thomas to escape the language of anguish for a few minutes.

Let’s hope it’s a tongue he is no more conversant in come Sunday. LD.

Follow me on Twitter @LittleDutchVA

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Julio Baptista's humble alter ego

What did she wear???

Smokin'Gunner

Laddered tights?

GunnAlex

It’s a shame he’s likely to leave. But he’s as good a backup CB you could likely find. Perhaps let him see out his contract like has been the theme lately, Sagna, Bendtner, Arshavin.

gooner for liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife

Thats the thing, hes not backup CB, hes a brilliant CB who has lost his place to an even better player. I couldnt imagine our team without him 2 years ago

The Ox is a fox

Bring back Ignasi Miguel and pair him up with TV5. That’s depth. We rotate to win all 4 competitions next season.

_

I don’t think it’s that likely Thomas will leave this year. So far it seems Arsene will go for a young rb and hence we would probably have to buy also an experienced 3rd choice cb – and I don’t think that is very likely, since there will be enough arrivals already and Arsene doesn’t like that.

Rocky Rocastle

I think we will probably go for a younger CB for the future like Veltman or Caulker.

gooner for liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife

I think Vermaelen will leave this summer but I dont think that the “them” is any indicator. He says “us” right before and then says “potential”, the “them” would refer to younger players me thinks.

picky

or it could be just a case of Vermaelen being modest and did not include himself as among the “we have good players” which he said before “them”…

goonero

I like you too much to want to see you stay and be unhappy. I can only admire the sheer bausness with which you’ve comported yourself during this season. I will miss you verminator! I know as soon as you get a run of games together again you will remind everyone why you earned that title!

Andre

I agree,

Top, top player, top guy and long will he be remembered as a Top Arsenal guy.

(too many ‘tops’?)

DR

Turns out all you need to retain the respect of the fans is to have a bit of integrity, even when he was dropped he acknowledged that he wasn’t good enough and needed to work hard to get back.

Goontang

I wonder if vermaelen will lift the trophy even if he doesn’t get a run out? Although I really can’t help but feel that Mertersacker has been our real captain all season. He surely should get the armband next season regardless of whether arteta and vermaelen are still here.

Would love to see a mesut or rosicky Wembley goal Saturday too, mesut just to see him get out of his shell and celebrate like a mad man & rosicky just because he’s fucking our rosicky. Deserves some silverware that guy.

Serge

There doesn’t seem to be much excitement on the Arseblog comments in the lead up to the final? I for one can’t stop twitching in excitement. Much like the Ozil signing when it took months to sink in that we signed one of the best midfielders on the planet, everything is still sinking in that we are in the fucking final!

Asat

I Love Verminator, No doubt. he’s handled his bench role This season with grace And professionalism. See, even if You will leave at the end of the season, Make sure You leave with a medal…… The FA Cup!!!

Mimir

I hope Le Boss shows them DVDs of Bradford, Birmingham, Blackburn and Wigan Semi Final (upto minute 80) games before the final. That ought to take care of any “complaceny”.

Naija Gunner

Can’t wait for the cup to be lifted by our Verminator! He’s staying I believe he is. He’s a bloody good professional and he likes it here at Arsenal.

arseface

I like him too much to see him unhappy, sitting on the bench. Would love him to stay. Do people still think he wouldn’t make it as a defensive midfielder? I think he had the attributes to give it a chance.

new monkey

Time to get rid of the old pesky monkey of our back of not having won a trophy in … years and get
a new pesky one of having won the 1st trophy in … years
COYG

Arsene Wenger's Penguin Suit

Replace first four lines up to “knee,” with “Vermaelen”, and that’s where the info starts!

Monkey Nuts

I think it’s fair to say Vermaelen lost his place due to injuries, a complete loss of form and Kos and Mert forming such a strong partnership. Not sure what his loss of form was down to but he turned into a liability in some games last season. Maybe he lost confidence due to the injuries and lack of game time and the pressure to try too hard and see off that competition. He’s too good to sit on the bench at Arsenal for another season waiting for someone to get injured or suspended. Just shows that having a strong… Read more »

Ben

There’s a reason he’s called the Verminator. Tough as nuts and kicks some ass.

A vital cog in our squad. Really hope he stays.

Goonerestgooner

Is Gibbs fit? If not, TV5 for the left back position.
If he is fit though, I would love to see Tommy get a 10/20 min cameo (if we’re 4-0 up by then)

F3AR-BONER

I think the Verminator will stay this summer. We really can’t afford to lose 2 of our most senior defenders in one summer. As for his form and finding his way back into the starting 11, ppl need to remember he was out for an entire season before his less than stellar one last campaign. You can see he is coming back into form now, look no further than the West Ham game, I thought he was brilliant in that game and dealt with the one trick war horse that is Carroll superbly! Next year I can see him getting… Read more »

Benglian

Hmmm I spent a lot of time in Belgium and I’ve never met a Flemish speaker who didn’t speak French too…

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