Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Vermaelen's fantastic attitude -Mertesacker's new contract -Five players we need back fit

Morning Gooners.

The post Old Trafford analysis continues following our defeat. It seems that some commentators and pundits are keen to write off our title chances after we failed to win our 15th league game in a row on the road. Because of course, the 14 wins before our trip to play the champions were just flukes.

I think the international break has finally come at a good time for us. No because we'll get endless articles and television reports about how we're not as good as we think we are, but because it will give some of our key players - Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini - time to rest up ready for when we next play against Southampton.

It will also give the likes of Theo Walcott the chances to get back to full fitness so that he'll be ready to play against his former club. We really need to see our injury list reduced by the time we play our next league match. And of course get Per Mertesacker, Tomas Rosicky, Serge Gnabry, Kieran Gibbs and Arteta back to full health.

Club captain Thomas Vermaelen has been speaking about his return to Premier League action for the first time since April.

He told Arsenal.com:

"We lost the game to a set-piece and that's a bit frustrating. Neither side really created too many chances. We didn't play well enough in possession of the ball to create any chances or score goals. 
"We wanted to win the game and went to Old Trafford to do that. We were eight points ahead of United going into the match and had the chance to make it 11 points. It was a bit of a missed opportunity. 
"But we're still top of the league and need to keep the confidence we've had over the last couple of weeks. There's no reason for that to change dramatically. We're still confident we can win games and we have a long way to go."
While he added on his own future at the club:
"Personally, I’m still confident I can play for this club and every chance I get I will do a job. 
"Yes, my future is at Arsenal. At the moment there is no story. I’m not talking about it. It’s now November, but any moment things can happen. If they do, I’m ready and I’m not thinking about anything else. 
"I can’t keep talking about my situation. I’ve done that with the national team and I keep on reading stories that say I want to leave. But that’s not the case. I’m still focused on the team at the moment and that’s what I want to do.
"I’m always positive. What I have said is that it is not about my situation but what the team does and I’m really happy that we’re top of the league."
Sunday shows that at a moments notice any player can be back in the team. And that is why we cannot afford to let Vermaelen leave, even if he wanted to in January. I thought he had a fairly decent game. Neither he or Laurent Koscialny had too much to do, but what they did have to deal with they coped with.

While I'm not convinced Vermaelen can force his way back into the team with the way that the Mertesacker-Koscielny partnership is working, there is clearly a place for him in the squad. He's also done a good job as captain. While not involved some players would have been upset and frustrated with the situation. While Vermaelen might feel that privately, he's never spoken publicly about it. And that's a great credit to him.

I'd imagine that he'll reassess his future at the end of the season, but for now he's all signed up to Arsenal's title challenge, even if that means he only has a flirtation with a first team place.

Elsehwere, the Daily Mail is reporting Arsenal are hopeful of extending Per Mertesacker's contract..

While I hate Arsenal losing, just like the rest of you, it does mean we go back to being the underdogs again. It's a role I much prefer us playing. Always having something to prove. The players and the manager will take this defeat very personally. But we have to look forward to the next three games, which are all tough but they are winnable.

We play Southampton at home, Cardiff away followed by a Wednesday night fixture at the Grove against Hull. The first of our three games is against the most in form team in the league. Mauricio Pochesttino's men haven't been defeated in their last six games, but their only defeat this season came against Norwich.

We've got to keep our focus. We're still in a fantastic position and we need to push on when the real football returns.

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