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Premier League

Thomas Vermaelen vows to stay and fight for his place at Arsenal, despite transfer rumours linking the captain with an exit

The Belgian international has struggled to break into the side in 2013

Thomas Vermaelen has allayed fears he will seek an exit from Arsenal amid his current struggles to break into the first XI.

With the January transfer window approaching, the club captain has been linked with various other clubs, however he has vowed to stay and fight for his place at the Emirates.

His position has become clearer following his first Premier League start and only his sixth appearance of the season in yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at Manchester United

The Belgian international was only handed his chance after a sickness bug struck Per Mertesacker, who has formed an excellent central defensive partnership with Laurent Koscielny in 2013, during which time no team have collected more points than Arsenal.

He has also struggled to hold down a place at international level with Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen preferred when fit but Vermaelen, who turns 28 on Thursday, according to the Evening Standard claims he is ready to prove himself capable of regular first-team action once again.

Asked if he sees his future at Arsenal, Vermaelen, whose contract expires in 2015, replied: “Yes. At the moment there is no story. I’m not talking about it. It’s now November but any moment things can happen. If they do, I’m ready and I’m not thinking about anything else.

“I can keep talking about my situation. I’ve done that with the national team and I keep on reading stories that I want to leave. But that’s not the case. I’m still focused on the team at the moment and that’s what I want to do. I’m always positive. What I have said is that it is not about my situation but what the team do and I’m really happy that we’re top of the League. Personally I’m still confident I can play for this club and every chance I get I will do a job for this club.”

With Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky taken sick — Mikel Arteta and Serge Gnabry were also affected but not sufficiently to remove them from the matchday squad — Vermaelen only learned of his inclusion in the starting line-up hours before the game.

Robin van Persie scored the only goal of the game, heading home Wayne Rooney’s 27th-minute corner, but Vermaelen believes he was not affected by his late call-up and urged his team-mates to make better use of the ball; they had 60 per cent possession at Old Trafford as United spent much of the second half on the back foot.

“It wasn’t hard,” he said. “I go into every game ready to play. I always make sure I’m mentally ready and physically ready to play, so it wasn’t difficult. I knew it could happen at any moment so I’m always ready. I’ve been saying it for weeks and months and all of a sudden it happened.”

Van Persie paid tribute to his team and said: “It was a massive win. I always like to think positively but we could have been 11 points behind, which would have been dramatic.

“I don’t think you can beat a team like that with just a couple of individuals playing well. You need to be strong as a team. That is what we did.”