Thomas Vermaelen believes Arsenal's 6-2 thrashing of Blackburn Rovers sent out a "big message" to the rest of the Premier League – but maintains there is still plenty of room for improvement.
The Gunners are now the leading scorers in the division and moved back into the top four following a brilliant attacking display at Emirates Stadium on Sunday. However, Vermaelen – the centre-half who took his tally for the season to five with a fine equaliser after being caught out for Rovers' early opening goal – feels Arsenal must tighten up at the back.
"To win a match 6-2 is a big message. Now we just have to continue," said the Belgian £10m summer signing from Ajax. "In the end it was a great result, but if you analyse the match, in the first half we were not so good. The first half was a little bit disappointing for us as a defence because we gave away too many chances and they scored two goals. That is something which we must improve and there are things we can work on."
Vermaelen, though, feels Arsène Wenger's side should take heart from the way they have responded to successive league defeats before the last international break to record a run of six consecutive victories in all competitions. "We have good spirit and want to play our own game with quick passing," he said.
Arsenal were more than good value for yesterday's victory, which was another display of character to give Wenger cause for optimism his youngsters can finally deliver some long overdue silverware.
The Gunners have been boosted by the return to fitness of both the Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky, 29 yesterday, and the England forward Theo Walcott – who came off the bench to score the fifth goal in what was his first appearance of the season following a back problem.
England's manager Fabio Capello was at Emirates Stadium, but elected not to hand Walcott an instant recall for the World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine and Belarus.
Walcott, though, remains determined to be involved in as much action as he can to make up for lost time since a summer spent at the Under-21 European Championships.
"It is not nice being injured because you just want to be back on the pitch playing with all your mates like you do every weekend and get into the rhythm of things," said Walcott. "It is good to come off the bench and be involved in a brilliant team."
The 20-year-old added: "I needed last week's game behind closed doors just to get me going. I have not really had a pre-season, so its nice to play that sort of game to get your fitness up and see what your fitness levels are like. To get back into the routine of things is great and its fantastic to be involved."