Thomas Vermaelen was pleased with the way that Arsenal stuck to their passing principles against a tough Stoke City side at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

The Gunners fell behind to an early Peter Crouch header, but Robin van Persie drew the visitors level with a well-taken equaliser at the back post.

Arsene Wenger has been overly critical of the Potters' physical style of play in the past, but Vermaelen praised the defensive resilience shown by his teammates to deny the hosts any further clear-cut chances to win the game.

"We didn't give away too many chances in the whole game and that is a good thing," the Belgian stopper told Arsenal Player. "The whole team showed a good spirit and we fought hard - we deserved a point.

"Defensively the shape was good, with [Alex] Song in front of us and he helped us a lot. If you [play] their game you would be second best. The main thing is to keep focused on your own game, with quick passing, and that is how we scored our goal."

The hard earned point could prove decisive in the race for a third place finish, as Arsenal look to secure automatic Champions League qualification next term.

After Newcastle were beaten 4-0 at Wigan, the north Londoners are in pole position to clinch that all-important spot in the Premier League table.

"Next week is an important match for us now," Vermaelen added. "We want to get the three points and see what the other teams do that weekend. But we must focus on ourselves first."

Arsenal welcome Norwich City to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, before a final day trip to The Hawthorns to face West Brom.

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#Thomas Vermaelen
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