Thomas Vermaelen challenges Arsenal to continue top-four momentum against Everton

The Gunners needed late goals to beat Norwich at the weekend

Jim van Wijk
Monday 15 April 2013 15:20
Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen
Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen

Captain Thomas Vermaelen has challenged Arsenal to maintain their momentum towards securing a top-four finish with victory over Everton at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow night.

The Gunners produced a late rally to come from behind and beat Norwich 3-1 on Saturday, which lifted them into third place as neither Chelsea nor Tottenham were in Barclays Premier League action.

It was a fifth straight win on the back of their Champions League victory away to Bayern Munich - an heroic performance which looks to have restored the belief within Arsene Wenger's squad.

Vermaelen, recalled to the side against Norwich as Per Mertesacker was suspended, called on Arsenal to make the most of their new-found spirit when David Moyes' well-drilled side come to the Emirates Stadium.

"We are on a run now. We have got a good momentum at the moment. We are winning a lot of games," Vermaelen said on Arsenal Player.

"Tuesday is an important game again at home so we have to keep fighting and try to get three points."

Arsenal could have Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky available again tomorrow after he missed the Norwich game with a hamstring problem, which could see Jack Wilshere rested.

Wenger must also decide whether to recall Mertesacker or stick with his captain alongside Laurent Koscielny.

Full-back Nacho Monreal was on the bench at the weekend, and could return in place of Kieran Gibbs, while Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski - who scored the third goal in stoppage-time - are all pressing for a place in the starting XI after impressive substitute displays when they came on to help change the Norwich game around.

German forward Podolski, 27, has seen his recent impact limited by injury as well as being utilised more from the bench by Wenger.

Despite stories linking the £11million summer signing from Cologne with a swift move away from the club, Podolski, who has 14 goals this season, maintains he is enjoying life at Arsenal.

Speaking to the official Arsenal matchday programme, he said: "I did well earlier in the season, then had an injury which put me out for a few weeks, however now I am back and hope to play a big part in the final run of matches - but it is the coach's decision, of course.

"Overall I am happy. You must remember I came from a team [Cologne] that was going down, and it wasn't so easy to come straight to a big club and be strong.

"But I believe I have the quality to play in every game here and think I have done well until now.

"I have scored some goals and made assists, so I am content, but I will be happiest if we can make the Champions League, because every player - and every team - wants to play at that level."

If Arsenal win tomorrow and then pick up another three points at Fulham, Wenger's side could be up into second place by the time Tottenham play again against FA Cup finalists Manchester City at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

There were long spells of the Norwich game where the frustrations of the home support spilled over.

Wenger, though, has called for focus - both on and off the field.

"It is important that our players and fans are united, because that always gives you a better chance of success," he said.

"In the final run-in, it will be vital that we are all together and focused on what we want to achieve."


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