Arsenal: van Persie Signature required, Vermaelen returns

Robin van Persie has been the glowing light this season for Arsenal fans, and they hope he will continue to score goals at Emirates for years to come. (Courtesy wikistadiums.com)

 By Ryan Fleming

Few are more important to their team than Robin van Persie is for Arsenal. The Dutch striker is leading the surge for an Arsenal team that started the year off 2-1-4, capped by an 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United and a 2-1 loss at cross-town rival, Tottenham.

Since then, the Gunners are undefeated, trouncing opponents and playing with a certain sense of flair, grit and outlying passion the team lacked for the first handful of games this season. The turn-around has the team at 7-1-4, good for seventh in the league table, and tied on points (19) with Liverpool. And Van Persie is getting much of the acclaim for the difference in play that has supporters and plaudits praising manager Arsene Wenger as a common hero rather than a goat.

The Dutchman, since the 2-1 win over Sunderland on Oct. 16, just four league games ago, has scored eight goals, including two over Steve Bruce’s lowly side and a hat-trick against Chelsea. With this fame, though, come the inevitable rumors that swirl around stars. For a team like Arsenal, and a player like van Persie, the rumors are almost non-stop.

For any Gooner, losing van Persie will leave a bad taste that stings your mouth. It’s a taste they can’t handle. Ex-Arsenal stalwart, Cesc Fabregas has come out and said that the club will struggle to get the Dutchman to put pen to paper while other, bigger clubs are surely more interested.

First, I ask, why? Fabregas, you were adored by millions and still you are, just now in Spain. But why talk? There is nothing any Arsenal fan wants to hear less than an ex-player talk about the team he use to lead and give them advice. OK, maybe if it was Harry Redknapp giving his opposition advice.

Obviously Wenger and the board understand the complications of the situation and it has been pushed to the forefront for about a month, while the striker has lit up the league. It is known that van Persie has been after Arsenal to talk over a contract, but that has yet to be done. Perhaps now Wenger knows how urgent and vital getting his striker to sign really is.

Vermaelen returns

Once one of the brightest, young talents in the Premier League, Thomas Vermaelen has been riddled by injuries. The Belgian international has played in only 15 appearances in the last two years. Now, seemingly back to a bill of full health, Vermaelen is ready to become a common fixture in the Arsenal back line, much to the joy of Wenger.

Vermaelen not only solidifies a rather shaky Gunner defense, but also adds a “captain’s presence.” He directs those around him, yet proving to be a calm presence when needed and can also pot a goal or two now and then.

Arsenal’s newset defensive addition, Per Mertesacker, hasn’t filled the shoes of what the club really needed – a veteran presence and a tall body. Mertesacker has underperformed in his audition, always being known as a calm, yet confident player, the German’s lax approach has cost him (see the Chelsea game). With the return of Vermaelen, Wenger now has the delightful dilemma of a centre back battle between Mertesacker, Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny, one of the more improved Arsenal players the season.

With the form of van Persie, the return of Vermaelen, things continue to look up for the North London outfit. But, with Arsenal, questions are always on the horizon.

Ryan Fleming can be reached at fleming.ryanr@gmail.com

By Ryan Fleming

Few are more important to their team than Robin van Persie is for Arsenal. The Dutch striker is leading the surge for an Arsenal team that started the year off 2-1-4, capped by an 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United and a 2-1 loss at cross-town rival, Tottenham.
Since then, the Gunners are undefeated, trouncing opponents and playing with a certain sense of flair, grit and outlying passion the team lacked for the first handful of games this season. The turn-around has the team at 7-1-4, good for seventh in the league table, and tied on points (19) with Liverpool. And Van Persie is getting much of the acclaim for the difference in play that has supporters and plaudits praising manager Arsene Wenger as a common hero rather than a goat.
The Dutchman, since the 2-1 win over Sunderland on Oct. 16, just four league games ago, has scored eight goals, including two over Steve Bruce’s lowly side and a hat-trick against  Chelsea. With this fame, though, come the inevitable rumors that swirl around stars. For a team like Arsenal, and a player like van Persie, the rumors are almost non-stop.
For any Gooner, losing van Persie will leave a bad taste that stings your mouth. It’s a taste they can’t handle. Ex-Arsenal stalwart, Cesc Fabregas has come out and said that the club will struggle to get the Dutchman to put pen to paper while other, bigger clubs are surely more interested.
First, I ask, why? Fabregas, you were adored by millions and still you are, just now in Spain. But why talk? There is nothing any Arsenal fan wants to hear less than an ex-player talk about the team he use to lead and give them advice. OK, maybe if it was Harry Redknapp giving his opposition advice.

Obviously Wenger and the board understand the complications of the situation and it has been pushed to the forefront for about a month, while the striker has lit up the league. It is known that van Persie has been after Arsenal to talk over a contract, but that has yet to be done. Perhaps now Wenger knows how urgent and vital getting his striker to sign really is.

Vermaelen returns
Once one of the brightest, young talents in the Premier League, Thomas Vermaelen has been riddled by injuries. The Belgian international has played in only 15 appearances in the last two years. Now, seemingly back to a bill of full health, Vermaelen is ready to become a common fixture in the Arsenal back line, much to the joy of Wenger.

Vermaelen not only solidifies a rather shaky Gunner defense, but also adds a “captain’s presence.” He directs those around him, yet proving to be a calm presence when needed and can also pot a goal or two now and then.

Arsenal’s newset defensive addition, Per Mertesacker, hasn’t filled the shoes of what the club really needed – a veteran presence and a tall body. Mertesacker has underperformed  in his audition, always being known as a calm, yet confident player, the German’s lax approach has cost him (see the Chelsea game). With the return of Vermaelen, Wenger now has the delightful dilemma of a centre back battle between Mertesacker, Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny, one of the more improved Arsenal players the season.

With the form of van Persie, the return of Vermaelen, things continue to look up for the North London outfit. But, with Arsenal, questions are always on the horizon.

Ryan Fleming can be reached at fleming.ryanr@gmail.com

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