Arsenal hope new Vermaelen deal will convince Van Persie

 

Marseilles

Arsenal have achieved a rare note of certainty in this difficult season by persuading Thomas Vermaelen to sign a new contract keeping him at the club until 2015. Arsène Wenger’s side, who are set for months of transfer speculation after their captain, Robin van Persie, said he would wait until next summer to discuss extending a deal which expires in 2013, will be relieved to get one key player tied down. The task now is to persuade Van Persie, Theo Walcott and Andrei Arshavin to follow suit.

Wenger said: “We are absolutely delighted. It is done because I was keen to get it done. That closes speculation about our centre-back positions. We have four or five now, that should be enough.” That would appear to close the door on any move for Gary Cahill in the summer, leaving the way clear for Tottenham to sign the Bolton Wanderers centre-half.

Vermaelen, who has barely played for more than a year through injury, and will miss tonight’s Champions League match in Marseilles with an Achilles problem, said: “I always had the intention to stay here. Arsenal is a fantastic club, we’re doing well financially and we are playing with some quality young players now and they will develop, which is very good for the future.”

The Belgian, who is probably the first player to announce he has been encouraged to sign a new contract because of a club’s financial results, did not accompany the Gunners when they flew to the south of France yesterday to face a team that is experiencing a similarly frustrating season.

Marseilles are progressing in Europe but languishing domestically; their coach, Didier Deschamps, is under pressure, while summer signings are struggling to make an impact; there is uncertainty about the club’s ownership, and key players are unsettled. As for their captain’s view of the performances: “We’re not solid at the back, and up front, we don’t frighten anyone anymore,” said goalkeeper-skipper Steve Mandanda.

Marseilles are 15th in Ligue 1 having won once in 10 league games, and that was at home to newly promoted Evian. Deschamps greeted that result with the comment “winning is the best medicine and will bring confidence to the group”. That was nearly a month ago and his team have since drawn three successive league games.

Marseilles have, however, beaten both Borussia Dortmund and Olympiakos to top Group F in the Champions League, and are usually tough opposition in the Stade Vélodrome. Plus, unlike Arsenal, they have been winning trophies, the title in 2010 and successive League Cups. Given Marseilles had not won anything in 17 years prior to his arrival in 2009, Deschamps should have as much credit in the bank as Wenger. Moreover, he signed a new five-year contract in the summer taking him to 2014.

However, the club's future ownership is in doubt with Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, who inherited the club from her husband Robert two years ago, addressing the players earlier this month, days after giving an interview in which she said: “For the money I invest I get very little in return.” She added she had put €20m in during the summer, and 'it is only normal I expect results'. Unfortunately for Deschamps his signings, notably Alou Diarra and Nicolas Nkoulou, have disappointed.

Wenger will be interested in the performances of Loïc Rémy, a 24-year-old French international striker who Wenger said had a touch of the “Thierry Henry about him”, and Lucho Gonzalez, who would have joined Arsenal in the summer had Marseilles been prepared to accept a loan deal for the 30-year-old. Wenger expects Marseilles to sit deep and counter-attack, as they did successfully against Dortmund. Given Arsenal’s defensive concerns, that is likely to lead to a cagey game, at least until someone scores.

Marseilles v Arsenal: Key confrontations...

Loïc Rémy v Per Mertesacker

Rémy almost joined Arsenal last year – his pace and power could trouble new arrival Mertesacker.

Alou Diarra v Mikel Arteta

The creative Spaniard will tussle for space with midfield blocker Diarra.

Souleymane Diawara v Robin van Persie

The in-form Dutchman faces the Senegal centre-back who struggled badly in his season at Charlton.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Furyon London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam