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Arsenal star believes Manchester City will be surprised by Gunners’ strength

10:24 21 September 2012

Manchester City

Manchester City's Mario Balotelli (left) and Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen (right) battle for the ball

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Gunners skipper Vermaelen feels club’s summer signings have made them stronger

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen says Sunday’s trip to Manchester City will be a “massive game” for his side, but believes that the Gunners’ new signings have made them stronger than last season.

Tuesday night’s 2-1 Champions League win in Montpellier extended Arsenal’s unbeaten start to the campaign to five games, and they head to City sitting third in the Premier League table.

However, City have not lost at home for 32 league games dating back to December 2010 and Gunners skipper Vermaelen knows the odds are stacked against Arsenal ending that impressive run, although Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over City at the Emirates in April was their last league defeat.

“It is a test of course at City but you don’t win or lose the championship in one game,” said Vermaelen. “They are the champions of last season and it is a massive game for us.

“But our squad looks strong at the moment. It looks like a lot of players are fit and a lot of important players are getting fit as well who are injured now.

“A year ago we had a lot of injuries. I remember when we played against Liverpool [in August 2011]. I think it was the second game we played, and we had a lot of young guys [and lost 2-0].

“The new players will score a lot of goals. Lukas [Podolski] scored again and [Santi] Cazorla is really obvious with how he plays – he is world class. And [Olivier] Giroud too. It looks good.

“I think the whole team works together. The shape of the team means we don’t concede a lot of chances,” added Vermaelen, who paid credit to new assistant manager Steve Bould, the former Gunners defender who stepped into the dugout to replace banned Arsene Wenger in Montpellier.

“He has a lot of experience. He played as a centre-back so for me personally I am really happy with him,” said Vermaelen. “We train a lot of tactical work as well in the whole season, and we keep working on our shape and organisation. You can see that on the pitch.

“That is good and something we need as well. Like I said, he brings us a lot of experience and he has a lot of ambition as well. He wants us to win and you can see that he puts a lot of effort in.”

The form of Vermaelen and central defensive partner Per Mertesacker has meant Laurent Koscielny, arguably Arsenal’s best defender last season, has remained on the substitutes’ bench so far in this campaign.

The Frenchman could come into the side at City, however, and Vermaelen added: “That is a good sign if you have a player like him on the bench. Maybe he was one of the most important players last season and he is on the bench now.

“That means we are doing well as a team. It is always good to have a strong bench as well and if you see the players we have there, that pleases me.”

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