The Arsenal defence has been under a lot of pressure recently and has taken a lot of criticism, with captain Thomas Vermaelen coming under particular scrutiny.
Arsenal do need to make a change and they could consider pushing Vermaelen slightly further forward into a holding role, protecting the defence until they can get someone in to do that job permanently.
It would be a very big risk to take by Arsene Wenger ahead of the rest of the season but the Gunners don’t exactly have anything to lose and it would allow Laurent Koscielny to come back into the back four.
Vermaelen does have a set of core qualities which would allow him to play such a role. He can read the game very well, he’s aggressive and he may benefit from a release of having to keep the backline organised.
He’s also very good at mopping and clearing up in the defence which would allow him to take the pressure off the back four quickly and clear danger, when Arsenal are pinned inside their own final third.
He’s good in the air and has a decent shot on him, which gives him the basic attacking qualities needed to break from any holding midfield role.
However, some Gunners supporters may feel as though there are plenty of other players suited to playing that role before Vermaelen.
There is also the key fact that any holding player needs to be able to link with the rest of the midfield so Vermaelen’s job would not be purely defensive for an entire match if he’s used in that position.
It’s also a massive risk because he’s not played the role before in his career. He’s not a David Luiz of Chelsea sort of player, who seems to be able to switch from one role to the next effortlessly.
The timing is also questionable. Arsenal’s defence is very fragile at the moment and for Arsene Wenger to risk stability even further is not something that may go down well with the fans or the rest of the team.
Considering Arsenal are chasing a Champions League place which is very important to them next season, safety has to be the first option but Vermaelen is a possible holding player.
It’s a role he could try for the first time and it may suit him down to the ground, which means Arsenal wouldn’t have to go out and spend millions on a holding player, freeing up some of the large cash reserve for another area.
Good or bad idea Arsenal fans?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald