Belfast Telegraph

Vermaelen gunning for top four

Thomas Vermaelen is certain that Arsenal will qualify for the Champions League if they can keep repeating the kind of display that saw them rip apart AC Milan on Tuesday night.

Goals from Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and captain Robin van Persie gave the Gunners a resounding 3-0 lead against the seven-time European champions, but they were unable to grab the fourth goal that would have taken the tie to extra-time and they bowed out of the competition.

Arsenal have suffered from woeful inconsistency all season - highlighted by their 4-0 first-leg defeat in Italy - but Vermaelen said: "If we can play like (we did last night), there is no way that we will not be in the top four. That performance will give us a boost now."

The defender added: "We are out of the Champions League but we need to take the great feeling out of this game.

"It's really important that we qualify for the Champions League. I think Arsenal are a team that belongs in the Champions League. We have the quality to do it, that showed in the second leg."

Right-back Bacary Sagna felt the team's performance in the opening period was the best he has seen.

He said: "I honestly can't remember us playing that well in a first half before.

"We played without any pressure. We had nothing to lose. We could only score goals but it was not enough.

"It is disappointing to go out but it will give us some momentum going in to the game against Newcastle (on Monday)."

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