Thomas Vermaelen may now be the senior figure at the back - but he is determined to lead from the front as Arsenal seek to end their trophy drought.
The Gunners have not won the Premier League since 2004 and their last piece of silverware was the 2005 FA Cup. Vermaelen made an immediate impact at the Emirates Stadium after signing from Ajax last summer and he is ready to take on more responsibility following the departures of Sol Campbell, William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre.
"You have to keep performing every year. If you play for Arsenal you can never say 'I had a good year, so now I'll ease off'. That's not possible," said Vermaelen. "People ask you to do better every year and I will try to do that."
He added: "It's always more difficult to stay at that level and next year that is the challenge - not only to maintain the level but to improve upon it because it wasn't enough last season. We didn't achieve anything. We have to grow again."
Vermaelen has been impressed with new centre-back partner Laurent Koscielny, who arrived from Lorient last month and cannot wait to get stuck into life in the Barclays Premier League.
Koscielny started alongside Vermaelen in Saturday's Emirates Cup draw with AC Milan before appearing off the bench against Celtic on Sunday.
The 24-year-old told www.arsenal.com: "In France I watched the Premier League a lot. It is a very physical league, with a fast and intense pace.
"I used to follow the big four of English football - Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. I love the atmosphere here with the supporters."
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