Arsenal are a 'happy club' insists Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is sure he is once again in charge of a happy, united dressing room after Thomas Vermaelen bucked the recent trend by committing his future to the club.

Arsenal's disappointing start to the season, with four losses in their first eight Barclays Premier League outings, comes on the back of a summer that saw star men Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri leave the Emirates after long periods of speculation.

The midfield duo were barely out of the door before the question marks moved to Robin van Persie, Fabregas' replacement as both captain and focal point on the pitch.

At the weekend both the Dutchman and Wenger attempted to play down his failure to agree an extension to a contract which has 18 months to run, but Wenger was in desperate need of some good news to go alongside those calming words.

And on the eve of tonight's Champions League Group F clash at Marseille's Stade Velodrome, Belgium stopper Vermaelen provided it.

The highly-rated defender, currently out injured but a revelation since his arrival from Ajax in 2009, has penned a new deal understood to keep him in north London for another four years and Wenger took the chance to banish some of the negativity he feels has been clouding his club's image.

"What is important is that in our environment it gives a different message," Wenger told Arsenal Player.

"When you listen to people it looks like an exodus with everybody leaving the club but we are a happy club.

"We did not have the start of the season that we wanted but the atmosphere inside the club is very solid, very united and very positive.

"We want to turn the results round and the fact that some players extend their contract at the moment is a positive sign for us.

"We are unified and that is down to our mental strengths."

Wenger, who travelled without the injured Kieran Gibbs (stomach muscle), is hoping tonight's match can continue the positive feeling.

While the Premier League has delivered a handful of bitter pills already, in defeats to Liverpool, Blackburn and neighbours Tottenham - not to mention the 8-2 hammering by rivals Manchester United - European competition has so far proved a welcome relief.

The Gunners won both legs of a tough play-off with Udinese, before drawing at Borussia Dortmund and seeing off Olympiacos 2-1 at home.

OM have won both of their Group F games to date, but Wenger is encouraged by how his side have approached Champions League.

"We play with a bit more freedom away from home in Europe and there is a bit less pressure," he said upon his arrival in Marseille.

"But in Udinese we also played with massive pressure because that was the game of the season for us. Not to win that game would have been a disaster.

"You can see since then that it was a good game (to win) because Udinese are top of the league in Italy and at the time I could feel they were a very good side."

PA

Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor