There is a new player at Arsenal who, in the four days since the season started, has almost certainly assured his place in the first team. After just two games it is very obvious that this 23-year-old defender from Belgium has settled in very well at the Emirates.
Thomas Vermaelen signed to Arsenal in June of this year and is rapidly becoming a fixture in the team. In his Premier League debut he fired in a beautiful header from a Robin van Persie free kick, helping Arsenal thrash Everton 6-1 at Goodison Park.
The header was all the more sweet for Arsenal supporters considering that goals from set pieces haven't been an Arsenal specialty of late. Sweeter still was that the next goal was also from a set piece.
The goal wasn't his only contribution to the game. His interceptions, blocks, and perfectly timed tackles were outstanding. It seemed that whenever Everton got near the Arsenal goal, or took a shot, it was Vermaelen who made the crucial move that restored safety in the Arsenal area.
Before joining Arsenal, Thomas had been captain at Ajax Amsterdam for the past season, having been at Ajax since he was eighteen. In that time he has won all three of the Dutch domestic competitions, and has played 21 times for Belgium since 2006.
And it shows. The Boy has experience by the bucket load, his reading of the game is awesome. He really puts himself where he should be, when he should be.
Move on three days and Arsenal face Celtic at Celtic Park in a Champions League Qualifier. No English League team in 25 years has beaten Celtic at home, so despite Saturdays victory, the outcome of this match was no foregone conclusion.
And so it proved for nearly the whole of the first half. Although Arsenal were playing more fluid, passing football than Celtic, they were struggling in the final third, Celtic made numerous forays into the Arsenal half, and once again it was Vermaelen who provided the most relief for Arsenal.
Again, his positioning and awareness were outstanding. It is no wonder Arsene Wenger spent 10 million pounds of his limited transfer budget. Once again, as with Arshavin, the Arsenal manager has spent small and bought big.
Arsenal scored on 43 minutes when a Fabregas free kick rebounded off Gallas, who went on to make an impressive clearance himself in the second half. A bold move that was badly copied by Celtics Gary Caldwell on 72 minutes resulting in an own goal and a 2-0 win for Arsenal.
Saturday brings Portsmouth to the Emirates for Arsenal's first home game of the season. It will be interesting to see how this squad plays in front of the home crowd. It is almost guaranteed that the last two away performances will assure them the warmest of welcomes at the Emirates even from the boo-boys.
Whatever the match has in store for us, it is virtually guaranteed that Vermaelen will be where he should be, when he should be, at the crucial times.
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