Vermaelen focused on own game

  • Last Updated: April 27 2013, 13:54 BST

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen says it is "not a big deal" that Manchester United will arrive at The Emirates as newly-crowned champions.

Thomas Vermaelen: Focused on his own game
Thomas Vermaelen: Focused on his own game

The Red Devils sealed a 20th championship crown as former Gunners skipper Robin van Persie fired a hat-trick to beat Aston Villa 3-0 on Monday night - sparking wild scenes of celebration at Old Trafford.

After opening up a commanding lead on rivals Manchester City, Sir Alex Ferguson's men had for some time been nailed on to win the title.

Arsenal defender Vermaelen, who is hoping for a recall to the starting XI tomorrow, maintains the home side must focus on delivering the required performance from themselves in their fight for Champions League qualification once the pre-match ceremony of a guard of honour is complete.

Speaking in the official Arsenal matchday programme, the Belgian international said: "The first thing is always to look at yourself and how you are going to perform, so I don't see it as a big deal that they have already won the title.

"While we congratulate them, we cannot worry too much about that.

"Both teams are hugely competitive and will want to win the game, so we will need to be at our best."

Vermaelen also believes watching United cruise clear at the top of the table has reignited the desire within Wenger's squad.

He added: "Everybody here wants to do what United have done - we are all ambitious and have a big desire to win titles.

"We want to be doing it every year, and the drive is within all of us."

Arsenal must do without 17-goal striker Olivier Giroud as he begins a three-match ban following an unsuccessful appeal against his red card at Fulham.

Wenger has to decide whether to deploy Theo Walcott down the centre again, try out German striker Lukas Podolski or perhaps even Gervinho.

Whoever he selects in attack, the Arsenal manager maintains the dynamic of his side will adjust accordingly.

"It is something I have to weigh up, who will play through the middle," Wenger said. "We will be less strong in the air, but we will try to play with the characteristics and the personality of the player who will replace him.

"We will keep exactly the same structure in our team and the same football, but the personnel will be a bit different."

Wenger does not believe securing the title so early should play a major part in how United will approach tomorrow's showdown.

"I expect them to come and try and play their game and win, like they always do when they come to the Emirates," he said.

"We can only focus on our own performance. We are on a very strong run in the last 10 games and we have a good level of confidence.

"We have a great desire and it is a good opportunity to show for us that we have moved forward in this league since we played them last time at Old Trafford, which I think we have."

Arsenal head into the weekend games with little margin for error if they are to keep up the pressure of a top-four finish.

While the Gunners have kickstarted their campaign with a stunning run of some nine victories from the last 12 league games, Wenger accepts his side have yet to put down a marker in the games between the leading clubs.

"Last year we did well against top teams, but this year we have not," Wenger said on Arsenal Player.

"I felt it was a lot down to the fact we renewed the team and had a big lack of confidence for a while in the season.

"Now we have a good opportunity on Sunday to show that we have made that step so let's take it."


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