The 28-year-old defender has been something of a peripheral figure this season at the Emirates but his performance in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Everton to progress to the semi-final of the FA Cup, as well as his admirable display in Munich on Tuesday night in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with the European champions will give manager Arsene Wenger plenty of food for thought about his team selection for the day out at Wembley.
However, the skipper is keen to avoid ‘underestimating’ the Championship side who are the defending holders of the FA Cup this term. Wigan beat Manchester City in the final at Wembley back in May and once again last weekend in the quarterfinal and are undoubtedly up to the challenge and ready to defend their title, despite being relegated last year and losing their manager.
The Arsenal captain has called for caution ahead of the clash on April 12 and hopes his side will avoid making the same mistakes as Manchester City.
"We can't deny that we are the favourites anymore because we are the highest Premier League team, but this is the FA Cup - there is something special about it,” he explained in an interview with the Express.
"Wigan go to Man City and knock them out, we got knocked out last year by Blackburn Rovers, who play in the Championship, so we know what we have to do.”
Arsenal will indeed be the favourites for the tie but they are no strangers to ‘giant killing’ as Vermaelen suggests. Last season they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Blackburn and the Capital One Cup by Bradford in December 2012.
This season there seems to be added character and maturity in Arsene Wenger’s squad as the North Londoners continue their quest to end their nine-year trophy drought and the FA Cup is undoubtedly their best chance of silencing critics of the club this term.
However, Arsenal fans will remember the pitfalls of Wembley after their last cup final there in February 2011 – the Gunners went in to the game clear favourites ahead of Birmingham only to lose 2-1 late on in the game via a calamitous miscommunication between goalkeeper Wojceich Szczesny and defender Laurent Koscielny.
Vermaelen was not involved that day as we was sidelined through injury but seven of the 13 players involved in that final remain at the club. Whilst this Arsenal team is changed in many ways, the psychological scars may still be residual from the years in which they have come so close to a title and not seen it through.