Vermaelen admitted to being surprised at Villa’s collapse this season, and spoke very highly of international team-mate, Christian Benteke earlier on. A piece that will shown in tomorrow’s 0fficial matchday programme.
“I’m surprised they have struggled this season.” stated the Arsenal Captain.
“I’ve watched them several times and have seen them put in some really good performances, scoring some nice goals. Their game at West Brom a few weeks back sticks in the memory, and they were very unlucky to lose 3-2 to Manchester United earlier in the season after going two up.
“They’ve gone with a young team and I think that’s been the difference this year. What pleases me about them is that their manager, Paul Lambert, has been given time.
“He has a fairly inexperienced team and it’s refreshing to see that he has been allowed to work with the players, developing them, rather than having to look only at the short-term. Other clubs have sacked their managers very quickly and I’m glad Villa have not.”
Having scored 6 goals in his last 5 games, with a combined total of 15 for Villa this season, Vermaelen is well aware of the threat his Belgium counterpart poses to the Arsenal defence on Saturday.
“I know him well through working with him in the Belgium national team,” said Vermaelen.
“He’s scored some important goals for us recently against Serbia and Scotland. He is still young, and I’d describe him as an ‘English’ kind of striker – good in the air, timing his jumps well, strong and improving technically.
“I think he’ll only keep improving, and I am really happy for him – but I hope we can keep him quiet this weekend.”