Arsène Wenger says Thomas Vermaelen not guaranteed return


Arsène Wenger has cast doubt over Thomas Vermaelen’s Arsenal future by saying that just because he is captain of the club it does not mean he is guaranteed to be in the starting line up.

Vermaelen was left on the bench for Arsenal’s Champions League match against Bayern Munich in midweek and there are suggestions that his Arsenal career could be in doubt in the summer.

It was a bold move by Wenger to drop his captain and he may be thinking about handing the armband on. He has been here before. He replaced William Gallas with Cesc Fabregas in 2008. Jack Wilshere, at 21 the same age as Fabregas was when he was promoted, has been tipped to become the Gunners’ next leader.

Wenger would not say whether Vermaelen will face Swansea today but the manager has done little to suggest his route back into the side will be a formality after revealing the armband counts for nothing when it comes to selection.

“In England, the captain is of massive importance,” said Wenger. “But as a captain and a leader that shouldn’t guarantee you a place in any game. For purely sporting reasons, or tactical reasons in the game, when you don’t think it is the right selection, do you put the player in just because he is captain?

“That is disrespectful to the guy who doesn’t play. For sporting  reasons it is not completely justifiable. Vermaelen is part of these tough boys – he still gets going even when he is not at 100 per cent,” added Wenger. “Sometimes the performance suffers a little bit from that.

“All the players are in the same position. Nobody’s guaranteed places in the team. Every position is up for grabs. You have to face it like that, the last game decides the next one.”

Kieran Gibbs will be rested today.