Four aerial battles won: Vermaelen impresses as stand-in for Arsenal

Stand-in left-back Thomas Vermaelen showed just why Arsene Wenger had faith in him against Bayern.

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen will not have had happy memories of the Allianz Arena on a personal level.

While the Gunners won 2-0 last season at the ground, Vermaelen was ruthlessly dropped by Arsene Wenger, setting about a nightmare 12 months for the Belgian.

He is yet to regain his place in the side at centre-back, and has been regularly linked with a summer transfer away from The Emirates.

With injury problems at left-back, Arsene Wenger called him back into the starting line-up against Bayern.

With Lukas Podolski selected in front of him, not known for his defensive work, the duo performed admirably and while not spectacular, Vermaelen certainly did not let the side down and illustrated why he remains an important squad member.

He won four aerial duels, more than any other Arsenal player barring fellow full-back Bacary Sagna.

Vermaelen's tackling was a tricky issue, he won two but conceded four fouls, giving Bayern set pieces in his own half. His 80 per cent passing accuracy was a notch above Sagna, who registered 70 per cent.

His five successful clearances were crucial to Arsenal's defensive cause, overall illustrating he could step into a position he does not enjoy playing in, and help the club's backline appear as solid as ever.

Up against Arjen Robben, the Belgian was always in for a tough night but coped admirably against the slippery Dutchman. In the final third, he did not offer much as an attacking threat, but this was not the type of opponent against which to bomb forward and leave gaps to exploit at the back, especially with Podolski in front of him.

While it's been a year since he was dropped, equally adept performances at centre-back from Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny mean he is unlikely to usurp either of them in the pecking order soon, but it was a much improved display on the weekend's game against Everton, where he ruined a decent display with individual errors.

Between now and the end of the season, Vermaelen has earned himself the opportunity for more chances, and Wenger may just become more willing to hand him more starts, and even convince him to hang around for another season.

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