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Arsenal 13:30 West Ham

Vermaelen counts on experience

Belgian stopper expects team to be wiser this season

Last Updated: 12/08/10 4:42pm

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Vermaelen: Learning from experience

Vermaelen: Learning from experience

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Thomas Vermaelen believes Arsenal can learn from their experiences last season to mount a serious title challenge this campaign.

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The Emirates club, who have not raised the Premier League trophy since 2004, will take on Liverpool in their season opener on Sunday, with Belgian centre-half Vermaelen in line to take the captain's armband should Cesc Fabregas not be match fit.

Arsene Wenger's men made costly mistakes last term, throwing away points that would have kept them in the title race by conceding a last-minute equaliser at Birmingham and then unaccountably losing at Wigan having been 2-0 ahead.

But 24-year-old Vermaelen insists the Gunners have taken lessons from those mistakes and will enter the upcoming campaign a wiser team.

Experience

"You have to look at all games which we lost, and each one had its own story," Vermaelen told Arsenal TV Online.

"In football, it is really difficult to perform at a high level in every game - and that is what we have to do every year.

"We are one year older now, more experienced.

"For myself, as an individual, I have learned a lot last year and I hope I can improve.

"I feel the same pressure as I did last year, that is to be as good for the team as I can, to perform the best I can and to win some things.

"The difference now is that everything is not new to me anymore, but sometimes the second season is more difficult than the first."

Arsenal's summer has been swamped by speculation surrounding the future of skipper Fabregas as the club successfully saw off advances from Barcelona for the Spain star.

But despite that distraction, the Gunners enjoyed decent pre-season preparations, capped by victory in their Emirates Cup tournament.

Eager

Vermaelen, who arrived at the North London club from Ajax last summer for £10million, insists the team are eager for the new season to start.

"We are all very positive and have had a good pre-season," he added.

"We have trained hard, are motivated and are ready for the first game against Liverpool."

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