Since Thomas Vermaelen returned to the Arsenal defence to start against West Brom in a 3-0 victory on November 5, Arsenal’s goals against average has been on the way down.
The Belgian defender has seen his goalkeeper beaten just twice in the five Premier League starts he has made since picking up an injury in Arsenal’s Champions League victory over Udinese in Italy on August 24.
Arsenal’s defence became notably porous the first time Vermaelen missed a game this season, when they went down 8-2 at Old Trafford. They also conceded 4 goals at Blackburn, 3 at Chelsea and 2 at Tottenham without their defensive talisman.
Since the former-Ajax’s defenders return last month, Arsenal have defeated West Brom 3-0, Wigan 4-0 and Everton 1-0. Albeit the latter two are amongst the weakest-attacking sides in the league.
The two goals Arsenal have conceded during this timespan came against Norwich City and Fulham. The first solely down to a defensive howler from partner Per Mertesacker. And the goal Fulham scored was actually a howler of an own goal from the Belgian centre back himself. Otherwise, Arsenal have been pretty solid at the back.
Next Sunday, Thomas Vermaelen faces his toughest test of the season so far… a trip to free-scoring Manchester City. Afterwards, the possibility of three clean sheets to end the year is a realistic one as they go to Aston Villa, host Wolves on Boxing Day and then host Queens Park Rangers on New Year’s Eve.
Now only Manchester United and Swansea City have more clean sheets than Arsenal in the Premier League after 15 games this season.