• Premier League

Vermaelen confident Arsenal will challenge 'for everything'

ESPN staff
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Thomas Vermaelen is eyeing a better season © Getty Images
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Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has said he believes the club is "good enough to compete for everything" next season.

The Belgium international said that although the Gunners have faced criticism and are currently embroiled in a transfer saga surrounding skipper and top scorer Robin van Persie, they will challenge for honours if key players stay fit.

Speaking during the club's pre-season tour of the Far East - which Van Persie has not joined - Vermaelen, who signed a new Emirates contract last year, said he was proud to play for them.

"When I was young I watched Arsenal a lot, and you could see the way they played was really attractive," he said. "I love the way we play, and it means I can play as well. It's not only about defending and heading and tackling. I enjoy defending, but I like to play as well.

"It's easy to give a long ball from the back, but it doesn't give you any choice. It's better to build up and show a bit of your technique as well. I like the vision of Arsenal."

Vermaelen said the club's "aims this season should be the same as ever" - to win things - and added: "I know people are criticising Arsenal, but our main target is to keep everybody fit. If we do that, I'm really confident our team is good enough to compete for everything."

He predicted that his compatriot Eden Hazard, who joined Chelsea earlier this summer, would be a success in the Premier League and compared his style to that of Lionel Messi.

"Eden is a really talented player," he said. "Technically, he is very good. He is quick with the ball. He's a little bit like the way Messi plays. He's small with a low centre of gravity and has some good tricks.

"He has exceptional qualities. It is not easy to show that every week at a high level, but he will show his quality to the fans at Chelsea. He will do well."

But he said the biggest spenders would not necessarily win the trophies, emphasising that a vision such as Wenger's could be equally important - despite the Gunners' seven years without silverware.

"Money can do a lot in football, but it doesn't mean you can win prizes all the time," he said. "City did it last year. Chelsea did it in the beginning as well, but not all the time. They didn't win it every year, and they didn't win the Champions League until last year. 'I don't think money can make sure you win trophies. Your vision is really important as well."

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