Vermaelen: Let me start for Arsenal

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Thomas Vermaelen intends to stay one step ahead of the game at the heart of the Arsenal defence this season.

The Belgian centre-back - so far Arsene Wenger's only summer signing - is hopeful of recovering from a groin problem to make his full debut in Saturday's Barclays Premier League opener at Everton.

"On the field it is just very important to be smart and thinking all the time," Vermaelen told the August edition of the official Arsenal magazine.

With Kolo Toure having been sold to Manchester City, the 23-year-old is expected to partner veteran William Gallas in a defence which was all too often brutally exposed last season.

With Vermaelen at just shy of 6ft, critics have suggested the Gunners will once again lack height in a crucial area. However, the former Ajax defender insists there is much more to his game than just sheer physical presence.

"I am not so tall, I know that, so you have to be good at reading the game," Vermaelen added. "I think my heading game is good, I have a good jump and that is positive if you are a centre-back."

Vermaelen had been at Ajax since he was 15, and went on to make more than 140 first-team appearances, captaining the side last season as well as playing in the Champions League - which included two appearances against the Gunners in the 2005/06 group stages.

"I will always give 100%," he said. "I have a good mentality. I want to do my best for Arsenal, playing as well as I possibly can.

"I think I am decent in the air and technically, and I always want to battle on the pitch."

However, Vermaelen added: "You do need a little time to adapt and we will see how fast it goes. But I want to adapt as quickly as possible at Arsenal and play as many games as I can."

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Manchester City
Premier League
Kolo Toure
William Gallas

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