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Vermaelen back for Arsenal, so Wenger should drop...

Arsenal have a defensive dilemma this weekend, but for once it is a good one and not a bad one for Arsene Wenger.

Remember last year when Arsenal were so depleted they had no fit full-backs? Or when they had to field Sebastien Squillaci in the FA Cup against Sunderland?

Thankfully for the Gunners that time is long gone, this is a fresh type of defensive dilemma, one where they are spoiled for choice.

Wenger has to choose just two out of three in-form centre-backs, Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker, and Laurent Koscielny.

Vermaelen and Koscielny were expected to continue their excellent partnership from the end of last season, but the Frenchman's injury before the season allowed Per Mertesacker to seize his chance, and he certainly has.

The German has been arguably Arsenal's best player this season, and put in his best performance in an Arsenal shirt last Sunday, making seven interceptions and leading a solid backline away to Manchester City, enabling the Gunners to snatch a 1-1 draw.

But it was his defensive partner the returning Laurent Koscielny who scored the equaliser, pouncing on a loose ball in the City box, and earning a crucial point which gives the club key momentum going into this weekend.

The Frenchman too had an excellent game, showing his form which made him in our opinion the Premier League's most improved player in 2011/12.

Vermaelen missed the City game with a virus, meaning Koscielny came in, but the Belgian is fit again and raring to go for the club's important home game at home to Chelsea.

He is the club captain, so Wenger will not leave him out if he is 100 per cent fit, so who loses out?

Last year Wenger played all three, with Vermaelen at left-back, but this did not best please the defender, and with Kieran Gibbs in outstanding form there plus Andre Santos on the sidelines there is little chance of such a repeat.

So one of last weekend's pairing will lose out, who should it be?

The good news for Arsenal is whoever partners the captain has a good recent record of doing so, Mertesacker early this season, and Koscielny last season.

Our pick? We would select Mertesacker and Vermaelen, the German has been outstanding this season and dropping him now would be harsh. Arsenal can rotate Koscielny back in for the Champions League tie in the week.

Simply having three outstanding centre-backs is a joy for Arsenal, but it requires careful management of them, and picking the right players at the right times.

Who should partner Vermaelen? Koscielny or Mertesacker?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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