Arsenal FC: Has Thomas Vermaelen's New Contract Saved Arsenal?

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIOctober 18, 2011

Thomas Vermaelen Signing a New Contract: Has It Saved Arsenal's Season?
Thomas Vermaelen Signing a New Contract: Has It Saved Arsenal's Season?Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Never has a player signing a new contract been so important for a football club. But in the case of Arsenal—and Arsene Wenger—star centre-back Thomas Vermaelen signing a new deal is massive.

After a dire start to their Premier League campaign, Arsenal boss Wenger has had a whole load of problems to deal with, ranging from player unrest to constant media criticism to losing the backing of the Emirates faithful.

But it seems with the team getting back to winning ways by beating Sunderland 2-1 on Sunday, and Vermaelen, indisputably the Gunners' best defender, signing a new long-term contract, Wenger's problems are ever so slowly beginning to disappear.

After all, it has been a turbulent time for the team ever since the 2011-12 season started.

As the Arsenal boss said: "This summer was the most agitated I've ever known. I had half the players in the dressing room who wanted to leave.

"You prepare a season, we go to Asia, we don't know who's coming, the players who are still there are asking themselves what is happening and if an earthquake is hitting the club. It's extraordinarily difficult."

It makes the news of Vermaelen committing his future to the Gunners all the more important for the club, as it shows the team's other stars that the most vital players are here to stay.

That in turn might convince the likes of Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott, who's contracts are set to run out in 18 months, to pen new deals with Arsenal.

And it will take some convincing for such players to sign new contracts, considering they can earn more money elsewhere with a better chance of winning trophies, which is what it's all about for footballers, as they want to be financially comfortable and well-remembered after their short careers in the sport.

All that will then in turn boost the team's morale, which is also highly important, considering when morale is low, performances are low, as Arsenal have proved with their four defeats in eight Premier League matches this season.

Even just for his displays on the pitch it's also a massive boost that Vermaelen has extended his time with the Gunners.

The 25-year-old Belgian may have only played two matches this season, but even in just those games his importance to the team is very much evident.

He's made more interceptions, won more tackles and made more clearances per game than any of his teammates, and has also blocked more shots per game.

He also has the best relative pass success rate than any Arsenal defender, being accurate with 88 percent of the 57 passes he sprays around on average per match.

And in the past two Premier League seasons, the Gunners have won 63 percent of matches with Vermaelen in the team, compared to just 47 percent without him.

So it's evident just how important Vermaelen is to Arsenal.

It's also clear to see how massive a boost it is that the Belgium international has decided to renew his contract at the Emirates.

And one can't help but think, had he signed a new deal earlier in the summer, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas might well have stayed with the club.

Regardless, it is still a huge boost for the team, with the defender putting pen to paper quite possibly being the moment that's saved Arsenal's season—and Wenger's job.