FC Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen has admitted that he ‘misses’ life at Arsenal, having marvelled at the Gunners’ scintillating 4-2 north-London derby victory at the Emirates.
Tottenham Hotspur are incidentally the Blaugrana’s next Champions League opponent on Tuesday evening, an encounter which could secure Spurs’ progression to the competition’s knock-out stage if they defy the odds and defeat Barca at the Camp Nou, and if other results in Group B finish in their favour, of course.
Revelling in past opportunities to lock horns with Tottenham, Vermaelen reverently expressed to French news outlet AFP:
“I saw the last derby and you can see the atmosphere, how much it means every time, it was unbelievable,
“I was really happy to be there for five years, I miss it. When I see the stadium and them doing well…I have good memories.”
The 33-year-old defender spent 5 years with the Gunners before joining the Barca in the summer of 2014, although injury woes have unfortunately limited the Belgian’s game time at La Liga giants.
With just 45 appearances under his belt, Vermaelen has become an almost forgotten figure, despite once being regarded as one of Europe’s best defenders due to his leadership, composure and adaptability.
Vermaelen has only featured twice this season under Ernesto Valverde, but was on the bench during the Catalan club’s 4-0 drubbing of regional rivals RCD Espanyol at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat on Saturday.
Arsenal will be vying to join Barcelona in next season’s Champions League campaign after falling short of the mark in the last two seasons under Arsene Wenger, who Unai Emery succeeded in May, of course.
Having qualified for the continent’s elite competition without fail for 20 years since arriving in north-London in 1996, the latter stages of ‘Le Prof’s’ tenure at his former employers was marred by obscurity and scrutiny, although Vermaelen certainly basked in the privilege of competing in the Champions League during his spell at the club under the enigmatic Frenchman’s leadership.
Arsenal top their Europa League Group E standings and face FK Qarabag in their final fixture before the knock-out phase, a tie which best football bets today has the Gunners down to win indefinitely, being an immeasurably superior force.
Capturing the Europa League title is arguably Arsenal’s most direct route to Champions League football, but as European encounters are unpredictable and cutthroat, Emery will undoubtedly urge his men to broaden their aspirations once Premier League football consumes their focus over the festive period.