Arsene Wenger admits he is surprised at how quickly Thomas Vermaelen has settled in to his Arsenal defence.
The 23-year-old Belgian international, who reportedly cost the Gunners £10million when he was signed from Ajax in the summer, made a scoring debut last Saturday in the 6-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park and was again impressive in Tuesday night's 2-0 Champions League play-off win over Celtic.
The Arsenal boss said: "Yes, I am surprised but we saw that he had the physical strength and mentality to cope and when he was needed he came in."
He added: "I believe he has a good mix of the physical and technical for a centre-back and it is interesting to have a left-footed player because he gives you angles for the pass which are very important for the midfielder."
Wenger also described defender William Gallas as "in the best form of his last two years," and praised midfielder Alexandre Song.
"In the last two games Song has played extremely well," said Wenger. "He can win the fight, not only with the physical strength but he has that sense, he can nick the ball from the opponent without fouling and that is an interesting quality."
Indeed, Wenger was generally pleased with all his players in the victory at Parkhead even though admitted that the two goals which should take the Gunners in to the lucrative group stages were lucky.
The visitors took the lead two minutes before the break when Gallas inadvertently diverted a Cesc Fabregas free-kick past Artur Boruc, and Celtic skipper Gary Caldwell put through his own net in the 71st minute.
Wenger, however, insists his side deserved their win on the night regardless of how it came about.
He said: "It was a fierce battle. We dominated the game but Celtic were always fighting and counter-attacking and in the end, despite being in control, we scored two lucky goals. But yes, of course, we merited the good fortune."
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