• Premier League

Wenger: Difficult to leave Vermaelen out

ESPN staff
December 3, 2013 « Shakes-Drayton to quit hurdles for 400m on flat | Chartbeat test »
Will Arsenal win the Premier League?

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits it has been difficult to leave club captain Thomas Vermaelen out of the starting line-up.

The Belgian's future at the club is uncertain as he has been reduced to being a substitute for the Gunners, with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny forming a solid partnership in defence.

Vermaelen previously revealed he would stay at the Emirates and attempt to win his place back in the team, but has since then refused to comment on speculation about his future.

And Wenger, speaking to the press ahead of Arsenal's clash against Hull on Wednesday night, says the decision to not select him has not been an easy one.

"It is tough to leave him out because of his quality, because of his attitude and because of his influence at the club, of course. It is a difficult decision because he is a top class player," Wenger said.

"He certainly suffers but he handles it with great dignity and great professionalism."

Arsenal go into the Premier League clash at the Emirates with a four-point cushion over Chelsea, but the manager remains coy on his side's chances of lifting the title for the first time since 2004.

"It's a bit early to make a prediction on the title. If we can maintain our concentration, we have a chance," he said. "What is important is to be at our best in the next game, I don't see beyond that."

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