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Defender Vermaelen wants five-point advantage over rivals by winning at Wolves

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Thomas Vermaelen believes that Arsenal will maintain their proud record of not having finished below Tottenham during Arsene Wenger’s reign, and thanked the Gunners fans for reminding him

Arsenal’s vice-captain also insisted that his side can compete for the Premier League title next season if they can repeat the consistency that has seen them surge up the table in the last six weeks.

Vermaelen admitted that finishing third and not fourth was now very much in the minds of the players after Tottenham’s recent slump in form continued with the Easter Monday home defeat to Norwich.

Arsenal remain two points ahead of their north London rivals, and can stretch that advantage to five points with victory at Wolves on Wednesday night, which would consolidate third place with just five games remaining.

“That’s what we are playing for – third place gives us direct qualification for the Champions League and that is really important to the club. That’s our main target at the moment,” said Vermaelen.

“I have only played here for a few years but I already know there is a big rivalry between Tottenham and Arsenal and I hear it every day in the street. They [Arsenal supporters] ask us to be above Tottenham at the end of the season. But we can only look at ourselves now. We know if we win every game we will end up above them and that’s what we will try to do.”

Vermaelen has been a cornerstone of Arsenal’s recent resurgence despite his poor display in the recent defeat at QPR, and believes the side have learned how to defend better as a team in their recent run.

“The defence has been good, but the midfield in front of us has been very important, it’s not only about the defenders. The shape of the team has been good over the past two months and I am really pleased with it.

“A player like Mikel [Arteta] is really important for us, not just on the pitch but off it as well. He talks a lot, he’s really experienced player, and is really important for us in midfield, because that is where you can win games or lose games sometimes. For us this year he has been really important.

“The momentum we had before that QPR game was really important for us. To win seven games in a row really helped us climb that table.

“But you know in the Premier League everybody can do that, everybody can drop points everywhere and you have to realise that and be focused.

“In some games we have showed a lot of quality, we can compete with everybody. But we have to be consistent and sometimes that hasn’t been the case for us. We will try to do that better next year.”

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Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners.

Ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,361).

Founded: 1886.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004.

FA Cup: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005.

League Cup: 1987, 1993.

Fairs Cup: 1970.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry, 228.

Leading appearances: David O’Leary, 722.