Vermaelen - 10 days away? I'll believe it when I see it
The most predictable thing to come out of Arsene Wenger's press conference today was the news that Thomas Vermaelen's return from injury has been delayed. I'll deal with the actual team news for Sunderland in tomorrow's preview piece. I want to focus on TV5 today, and what might well turn out to be another long and drawn out piece of nonsense.
I hope I can be forgiven for getting a sense of deja-vu about Vermaelen's injury. It was about this time last year that we were told he would be back in a fortnight. We would keep hearing it for over a month until it was finally revealed that the Belgian had a serious achilles injury that would require surgery. Quite how it took so long for Arsenal's ridiculously highly-paid medical staff to work that one out I will never know. These are the same people, you will recall, who had Jack Wilshere in a "boot" for more than a month before realising he had a stress-fracture that needed to be operated on. We were originally expecting the Verminator back after the internationals, but Arsene told us a fortnight ago that he would be one week longer. Today we are told he is "at least 10 days away." You couldn't make this up.
It seems obvious to me that Thomas is probably going to be absent for some time to come. I dearly hope to be proved wrong but, if recent precedent is anything to go by, we won't be seeing Thomas until after Christmas. Whatever the injury is it can't be denied that Arsenal's medical team has once again failed to treat it properly. How else can you explain the consistent inaccurate estimates given whenever an Arsenal player gets injured? It might have become a bit of an "in joke" when we hear a player is "two weeks away" when we know that they won't be back for months, but it has also become more than a little frustrating. Of course, if a player is injured they can not play, and that is not necessarily the fault of the medical men, but if those medical professionals say someone is out for a short time, and that subsequently becomes a long time, then surely it indicates that the problem has been inaccurately diagnosed.
Sadly, I doubt this is the last time we'll be getting an update on the return of Thomas Vermaelen. It is another serious kick in the teeth as Vermaelen is so important. I know we lost to Liverpool earlier in the season, but Vermaelen's performance was among the best centre-half displays you could ever wish to see. As well as his own quality defending he was also able to talk Carl Jenkinson and Ignasi Miquel through the match - it is no coincidence that Jenkinson looked so out of his depth at Old Trafford a week or two later in the absence of Thomas alongside him. Arsenal need TV5 back, and we need him back soon.
There will be a full preview piece for the Sunderland game at some point tomorrow.