Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger benched defender and captain Thomas Vermaelen last season after a series of poor performances. Vermaelen took the rather un-footballer-like step of admitting, per the Metro, "I have made mistakes."
That drew praise from Wenger, who said via Sky Sports that Vermaelen had "something mentally special there."
Mentally special or not, Vermaelen started just once in the league after Arsenal's 2-1 loss to Tottenham in March, a defeat that seemed to doom Arsenal to fifth place. That one start, against Norwich, came about only after Per Mertesacker was suspended for picking up a red card against West Brom.
The Gunners eventually recovered and finished fourth, but the blistering run-in had little to do with Vermaelen in defense. Laurent Koscielny and Mertesacker emerged as Wenger's first choice central-defensive partnership as Vermaelen sat on the bench.
After the season Vermaelen promised to stay at Arsenal and fight for his spot, per the Daily Mail. That makes the coming season important for Vermaelen's future at Arsenal—and, as the World Cup approaches, perhaps even his spot with the Belgian national team.