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While Arsenal fans are busy celebrating their 3-0 win over Manchester City in the FA Community Shield, Manager Arsene Wenger is already worrying about putting together the final pieces of the Arsenal puzzle to build a team that will be good enough to challenge for the Premier League title this season.

Wenger's biggest cause for concern at the moment is the gaping hole at centre-back for Arsenal, created by the sale of club skipper Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona for 15 million pounds. Wenger admitted in his post match press conference today that it will be very hard indeed to replace Vermaelen in the squad, but the performances of Calum Chambers in pre-season and in the Community Shield today to give him cause for optimism that the youngster can step up to the challenge.

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After conceding that Thomas Vermaelen will be a hard asset to hold on to, Arsene Wenger has already started preparing for a life without their club captain. The Daily Mail reports that Arsenal are keeping an eye on Manchester City defender Matija Nastasić as the man most likely to plug the gap left by the departing Belgian.

Nastasic made 50 appearance for the reigning English champions last season and was actively scouted by Arsenal during his Fiorentina days, before he chose the colours of City. The Serbian international will be aware that his club is keen on signing Eliaquim Mangala, which could put his position at the Etihad in jeopardy.

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After his failed experiment with Mikael Silvestre, Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger is expecting a different outcome from a similar procedure. According to reports in The Daily Star, the French tactician is contemplating making a bid for Manchester United centre back Chris Smalling.

Smalling was given a dressing down by United manager David Moyes, after he was pictured partying on the streets at 3a.m, while out of competitive action owing to a hamstring injury. His high spirits have not gone down well with the Red Devil faithfuls, still reeling from their side’s abysmal performances. The England international has few sympathizers left after, previously being caught on camera dressed as a suicide bomber, going to a fancy dress party.

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The winter transfer window may have ended for Arsenal but manager Arsene Wenger may still have to toil hard to keep hold of at least one of his stars. Reports in The Daily Mail have revealed that Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg are gearing up for a swoop for the Gunners defender Thomas Vermaelen and launch a bid for him soon.

The Russian transfer window still has 22 days left before closing and that may provide the club with an opportunity to land the highly rated 28 year old.

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Arsenal’s resolve to not remain a selling club will be tested if reports in the Metro about a possible move from Napoli for their club captain Thomas Vermaelen come true. It is highly unlikely though, that manager Arsene Wenger will even entertain a bid for the Belgian defender considering that the Gunners have only two other first team defenders.

Although Vermaelen has failed to retain his first team starting role this season for the London club, a more probable scenario is that Wenger may end up bringing another defender into the squad to provide cover in an area where a couple of unlucky injuries will see them having to use stop-gap measures in all-important position of central defence. Apart from providing cover for injuries, an increased squad depth will also make it possible for Wenger to play competitive teams across all competitions as the Gunners look to collect their first piece of silverware in over 9 years.

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is expected to field a younger and a less experienced youth side for the Gunners’ Capital One Cup clash with west London rivals Chelsea, according to reports in The Daily Mirror.

The Frenchman is expected to rotate his squad against the Blues, thus giving the so-called ‘fringe players’ of the club a chance to make a first team appearance against a strong opposition. The likes of Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfeld are expected to make it to the starting-XI if they are able to recover from their ankle and back problems, respectively, with out-of-favour Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen and Big Dane Nicklas Bendtner also expected to start today.

Wenger is also ready to play 18 year old Isaac Hayden. He told Arsenal.com, “He is maybe not a creative player but everything he does is intelligent. I like his intelligence and all these qualities together makes me choose him.”

 

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Thomas Vermaelen is reportedly running out of patience with his time on the bench. The Arsenal captain has been relegated to the substitute list following the stellar partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny at the heart of the Gunners’ defence. Tired of playing second fiddle at the Emirates, the Belgian could make a break for it in next year’s winter transfer window as per reports in talkSport.

Reportedly Serie A side Inter Milan is eyeing Vermaelen’s services. Walter Mazzarri’s side is currently occupying the fifth position in the Italian league after 8 games and has conceded 6 goals in their last two. Add to this the financial muscle power of their new Indonesian billionaire owner Erick Thohir and the blue half of the San Siro could well see some big money being spent on important players this winter.

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