Vermaelen to play through pain barrier

Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen is happy to play through the pain barrier to maintain his side's challenge in the Champions League and Barclays Premier League.

The 24-year-old feared he had fractured his leg against Aston Villa last month but played against Manchester United four days later despite feeling the effects of heavy bruising.

The Belgium defender still feels discomfort due to the injury but is determined to carry on playing, with the Champions League trip to Porto on Wednesday next on the agenda for Arsene Wenger's men.

"It turned out that I could play against Manchester United, but after that game I had some more problems, so I went for another scan," Vermaelen said.

"We could see then that there was a big bruise on the bone, and that's all - so it is painful but that can be controlled with medicine and when it is not broken, you can't do too much wrong.

"It is not a big problem to play - yes it is still there and will take some time to go away, but it is not dangerous."

The defeats to United and Chelsea were setbacks for Arsenal in their title bid but they have since got back to winning ways with maximum points against Liverpool.

"We will keep fighting to the end as a team, that is all we can do," Vermaelen said.

"The important thing is to stay together. When you lose, it is easy to say it is his fault or his fault, but I think it is important to remain as a team and a unit.

"We will battle until the last moment of the season."