Arsene Wenger has responded to reports suggesting he has lost faith in Thomas Vermaelen and Wojciech Szczesny, declaring the duo as key members of his squad.
The Arsenal captain and Szczesny were both dropped for Wednesday night’s 2-0 victory away to Bayern Munich, with the goalkeeper left behind to rest. The move from Wenger turned out to be very successful with Laurent Koscielny turning in a man of the match performance and Lukasz Fabianski becoming the first visiting goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet at the Allianz Arena this season.
Reports have been heating up that Wenger had lost faith in the established duo, who have suffered blips in form of late, and could look to sell them this summer but that analysis seems very far off the mark.
Wenger told reporters at the press conference of Szczesny and Vermaelen’s importance:
They are two outstanding players who are part of our squad. They have played so many games until now. Their position is very important in the squad.
All the players are in the same position: nobody is guaranteed a place in the team. When you go into this job, you know you have competition.
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Everybody faces the same competition and the players who have come in have been on the bench for a long, long time. They all have the same problem. The job of being a top-level competitor is to deal with that.
Every position is up for grabs. You have to face it like that. The last game decides the next one.
Who gave Wojciech a chance from nowhere in the youth teams? It was me because I rate him highly and have a big respect for what he has done.
But we all have ups and down physically and mentally and he has played many, many games this season. Maybe I should have rested him in the cup games but I did not do that. It is normal that you have ups and downs. He is a young goalkeeper.
Thomas Vermaelen has played many games in many positions and is a very important player in our squad. They know there might be rotation with the three centre-backs – Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker.
Could not agree with Wenger more here, the media have been quick to slag on the duo despite their dedication to the Arsenal cause and their undoubted skill and ability.
Players suffer dips in form and require some rest, that is what exactly happened in Munich and it turned out to be a master stroke. Both Fabianski and Koscielny deserve another start, they should be rewarded for their impressive performances in Germany.
This is exactly what our Belgian and Polish international’s need – a breather and a chance to reflect on their own performances. The duo must improve their consistency and I’m certain they will.
One question still remains however, will Vermaelen retain the armband next season? Reports suggest it may be time for Wilshere to be handed the honour however it remains to be seen how that will affect his performances and whether it will have a negative impact on Vermaelen. The extra weight off the Belgian’s shoulders could be welcomed however and allow him to focus solely on his own game, but Wilshere has enough on his plate at the moment.
The Gunners need stability with the armband after three consecutive seasons of the captaincy passed around, so Vermaelen should remain in charge especially as he is the more experienced player..for the time being.