Arsenal icon Thomas Vermaelen hails ‘amazing’ Mikel Arteta, William Saliba & Gabriel Magalhaes | Football

Thomas Vermaelen captained Arsenal from 2012 to 2014 (Photo: Getty)

Former Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen says he always knew Mikel Arteta would become an ‘amazing’ manager.

After coming agonisingly close to winning the Premier League last season, Arteta’s Arsenal are once again in the title race this campaign, though results have been poor of late.

The Gunners have won just one of their last seven games across all competitions, with back-to-back losses against West Ham and Fulham seeing them slip to fourth in the table.

They are five points off leaders Liverpool and last Sunday were knocked out of the FA Cup by the Reds following a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates.

Arteta has received some criticism following this recent run, but he still has the backing of former teammate Vermaelen, whom he played alongside for three years before inheriting the Arsenal armband from the defender.

‘Mikel was a great player and already a great leader for us in the team. I was saying it from early as well – he was one of those who was destined to become a manager,’ the former Belgian International told Arsenal.com.

‘You could see how he was on the pitch – talking to the players and always involved in how we wanted to play. He was a true leader for us already in that team. You can see he’s doing an amazing job now.

Arsenal FC v Manchester City - Premier League

Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba have been key to Arsenal’s success (Photo: Getty)

‘When I watch the games on TV, the team are always exciting to watch. You look at the players and feel like you have a feeling [of identity] with them.

‘Sometimes you look at a team and you’re not really connected with them but with this team, you really love to watch them.’

Key to Arsenal’s recent success has been their impressive defence, with their record of just 20 league goals conceded this season bettered only by Liverpool.

Centre-back duo William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes have been key to this, and Vermaelen was also full of praise for the duo, adding: ‘He [Saliba] is a great player.

‘He has everything a modern defender needs to have – he’s quick, he’s a great defender, he’s good on the ball.

‘He has a great partnership with Gabriel as well which is very important. They’re doing an amazing job.’


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