Vermaelen to fight for place

  • Last Updated: March 29 2013, 13:22 GMT

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen insists his work-rate will remain the same - whether he is in the side or not.

Vermaelen: Dropped to bench for the last two games
Vermaelen: Dropped to bench for the last two games

The Belgium centre-back was dropped to the bench for the Gunners' last two games, when they won away at Bayern Munich and then Swansea before the international break, which kept alive hopes of breaking back into the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

Manager Arsene Wenger must decide whether to stand by the pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker when domestic action resumes tomorrow against relegation battlers Reading at the Emirates Stadium, or recall his skipper to the heart of the defence.

Vermaelen promises whatever final decision is made will not change his approach.

Speaking in his captain's column in tomorrow's official Arsenal matchday magazine, Vermaelen said: "I am fighting to win my place back, and nothing will change my mentality or the way I work - I will give everything every day, as I have throughout my career.

"It is just something that happens in football, especially when you play for a big club.

"I always want to play, of course, but the boss has big decisions to make and puts the team on the pitch that he thinks will win the game.

"It worked on both of those occasions, and each time I was delighted that we won."

Vermaelen added: "I have played many games in my career, and spending two on the bench does not mean the world is on fire.

"You can't be surprised by these things, the only thing to do is keep going and make sure you come back strongly."

Arsenal were yesterday hit by the news midfielder Abou Diaby was set for up to nine months on the sidelines with a knee injury, which is the latest setback for the France international who has been plagued by a series of fitness problems since suffering a fractured and dislocated ankle in May 2006 after joining from Auxerre.

England midfielder Jack Wilshere, meanwhile, is also not available as he recovers from an ankle problem and forward Theo Walcott misses out after he returned early from international duty with a hip/groin problem.

Kieran Gibbs has been struggling with a virus, but fellow full-back Bacary Sagna should be available again following a knee problem along with Germany striker Lukas Podolski (ankle).

Arsenal, meanwhile, confirmed on Friday morning they would visit Japan as part of their Asia tour in the summer, which will include a match against Wenger's former club Nagoya Grampus at the Toyota Stadium on July 22.

Wenger said: "Japanese people are extremely knowledgeable about football and have a big passion for the sport, and I know that the English Premier League and Arsenal have many supporters in Japan.

"I have many good memories from my time working in Japan and the success I enjoyed with Nagoya Grampus and I am looking forward to meeting many good friends again in the summer."

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