Will Vermaelen be the big summer departure from Arsenal?

By Avenell Dave

So the transfer window is closed, we bought a player and he did pretty well on his debut against a Stoke side who have all the finesse of...well, of their fans.

Coming out of the ground, I looked with sympathy at a guy who was clearly disabled. He had on thick glasses and had two walking sticks to help him with his feet both pointing inwards. 

He was about 28-35 years old and looked a real trainspotter, but no one likes to see someone  suffering because of physical impairment and his walking did not look comfortable at all. 

Then he opened his mouth.

"You can f*&^ off you Cockney twat. You'll never win F*&^ all!" and more gutteral abuse I won't repeat.

It became clear that he was a Stoke fan and bitter that his side had been defeated, trying to goad an Arsenal fan who simply poimted to the back of his own shirt, the wording or name on which I did not see.

It would be simple, crass and unkind to make jokes about the link between this visiting fan and the zombie/knuckledragger caricature we have of Stoke fans in general, but this hardly did my impressions of them any favours.

Their team are clumsy, unimaginative and deserve everything it got on Saturday. 

I assume Michael Owen will also avoid punishment for throwing a fist at Mikel Arteta, who later embraced him in that nice guy way that betrays a lack of ruthlessness we need in the middle of the park.

But we won. We closed the gap on the Chavs and we looked much better all around.

It isn't easy beating sides who come to defend, particularly those with a fine goalkeeper (I wonder if Arsene Wenger has considered him if Szczesny makes any more rickets?) but we got the win and taht's all that mattered.

Nacho Monreal was strong, determined and although he made a couple of minor errors, you could see that he was feeling his way into a new side and looks like a superb signing.

We looked all the more solid at the back and I can't help wondering if Thomas Vermaelen may be more of a problem than a solution.

My wonderful neighbours at the ground have pointed out, as have I on this site, that making him captain makes him almost undroppable but his standards have dropped and where he used to at least chip in with a few goals, the fire has gone from his belly.

The observation was made that he did not shout and bawl at his players on Wednesday against Liverpool and while I think the entire defence needs drilling to sort out its shaky performances, he just doesn;t seem to gel consistenly with either of his partners.

Whatever we think about the inactivity in the transfer window, there won't now be anyone leaving unexpectedly who we want to stay. 

Everyone is signed up and only fringe players or those whose form and fitness are in question could leave.

That means Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna, both of whom will need to be replaced or at least strong squad members brought in. I am almost certain one or other will depart before the end of August.

This is the strongest the squad has been for some time because of players recovered from injury. We just have to hope the international week's injury curse does not affect us again.