Belfast Telegraph

Vermaelen ready for Chelsea clash

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen insists he is ready to play regular Premier League football again despite spending two months on the sidelines.

The Belgium international has been beset with injuries in recent times and last night made his latest return after a spell out with an Achilles problem. Vermaelen played 84 minutes of the Gunners' Carling Cup fourth-round victory against Bolton, before he was forced off with a calf injury.

Fortunately it proved to be nothing more than cramp and the defender now insists he is ready to face London rivals Chelsea this weekend if called upon. "I feel great," Vermaelen told Arsenal Player. "I trained [on Monday] with the team and I felt good straight away so I felt confident for [last night]."

He added: "Personally I don't believe in that [needing games to regain sharpness]. If I come back from injury after a long time I don't believe in coming back and getting rhythm. I think it is just in your head and a mental thing - if you are a football player you have to be there straight away.

"That's why I wanted to play today [Tuesday] and I think it's good. It was a good game for us, we fought hard and it was a deserved win for us I think. It was great to be back and to get time on the pitch. I felt fresh, I'm okay and am available for Saturday."

Vermaelen and his team-mates were saved by a quickfire double salvo from Andrey Arshavin and Park Ju-young as they secured progression to the cup quarter-finals with a 2-1 win against the Trotters.

After the match, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was quick to praise the latter and believes the summer signing from Monaco can now cut it in the top flight.

"I am very pleased with his performance," he said. "Park had a very, very good game. He has shown intelligence in his link play with others. The quality of his movement was exceptional and his finishing is absolutely fantastic.

"For me, he has shown he has shown he is a very, very good player. He is ready to play in league games. Compared to the player that played in the first league game, where he was a bit inhibited, I felt he played with freedom and has shown what a good player he is."

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