After a season of woe and sitting on the bench as his Arsenal side sit top of the Premier League standings, Thomas Vermaelen is rumored to be on his way out of the Emirates.
Vermaelen, 28, has played in just 11 games for Arsenal this season as the Belgian national team team captain has gone from skipper at Arsenal to back up, following the emergence of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as Arsene Wenger’s first-choice center back pairing.
According to reports Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg are willing to give Vermaelen an escape ladder from his nightmare in North London.
With the World Cup looming large, Belgian boss Marc Wimots is sweating on Vermaelen being at the peak of his game to help Diables Rogues become the dark horses of the tournament as the former Ajax academy product is the leader and heart of Belgium’s defense. At Zenit fellow Belgian international Axel Witsel and Nicholas Lombaerts would welcome Vermaelen, but can Arsenal really afford to let their third-choice center back go?
Vermaelen is said to be settled in North London since his move from Holland in 2009, but is growing increasingly worried as Mertesacker and Koscielny form an indomitable partnership at the heart of Arsenal defense that has more clean sheets (11) than any other PL team this season and has let in just 21 goals in 24 games.
With Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Daniel Van Buyten and several promising youngsters to fight with for a starting spot at the World Cup this summer, Vermaelen is desperate to go to the big dance in Brazil after becoming a prominent figure for Belgium and Arsenal in the past few seasons.
Should the talented Belgian defender make a loan switch to try and play regularly before the World Cup? Or should he stay put at the Emirates to wait for a chance to shine?
It will be a tricky decision for Vermaelen to make. Which comes first, club or country?
New York City FC has found its feet pretty well in MLS, and the club could finally be closing in on a location for its own stadium moving forward.
Newsday Sports is reporting that NYCFC is prepared to bid on land at Belmont Park as the club continues its search to find a permanent stadium for its future.
[ MORE: Which players should be up for MLS MVP honors? ]
The report also states that Belmont isn’t NYCFC’s preferred destination to play matches, with the stadium in Elmont — roughly an 18-mile distance from the club’s current venue, Yankee Stadium.
In the past, Flushing Meadows has been one of many sites discussed as a location for NYCFC to build its own venue, which would make sense given the fact that the land currently houses the New York Mets as well as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
NYCFC has shared Yankee Stadium with MLB franchise, New York Yankees, since the MLS side entered the league in 2015.
A move to Belmont could hinge on what the New York Islanders of the NHL do moving forward as well because the hockey team is reportedly looking at options outside of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where they currently play.
Round two of the UEFA Champions League is back on Tuesday, and while clubs cannot book their place in the Round of 16 just yet it’s just as easy for them to put themselves out of contention.
Three Premier League sides will be action on the afternoon, including Tottenham — who has the chance to start Group H play with six points.
Meanwhile, Liverpool and Manchester City will also take the pitch in Group E and F, respectively.
The day’s biggest clash of the day though comes in Germany as Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid meet in the other Group H fixture. Dortmund will be looking for a positive result after falling to Spurs in their opening day loss in the competition.
[ MORE: Who is the most complete striker in the Premier League? ]
Here’s the full rundown of matches on Tuesday’s UCL docket.
All games kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET
Spartak Moscow vs. Liverpool
Sevilla vs. Maribor
Manchester City vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Napoli vs. Feyenoord
Besiktas vs. Red Bull Leipzig
Monaco vs. Porto
Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid
APOEL vs. Tottenham Hotspur
The New Orleans Saints will be playing a different sort of football on Sunday at historic Wembley Stadium, but the NFL franchise took in Arsenal’s match today during their trip to London.
[ MORE: PL playback — Who is the most complete striker in the PL? ]
Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees posted a picture on Instagram with several of his Saints teammates taking in the Arsenal-West Brom fixture at the Emirates Stadium six days before the NFL team plays the Miami Dolphins.
The Saints-Dolphins matchup is the second NFL game to take place in England thus far in 2017, after the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 44-7, on Sunday at Wembley.
Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to Arsenal’s 2-0 win over West Brom, Brighton’s 1-0 victory against Newcastle and get into a deep discussion over the plethora of strikers in the Premier League.
Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.
All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:
[ Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]
Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.
Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies