By Joe Brewin

Thomas Vermaelen remains confident Arsenal have what it takes to secure automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League.

Arsène Wenger’s side still lead the race for third place despite failing to win their last two matches, and have crucial fixtures against Stoke, Norwich and West Brom remaining.

Vermaelen admits competition is fierce but insists that is simply the nature of life in the Premier League.

“It will be a big effort for everybody to get that third place,” said the defender. “It is not going to be easy but that is because you play in England and it is not an easy league. Everybody can beat everybody. It is going to be hard to keep third place but I am confident that we will.

“Of course [it is going to be interesting] because there are a lot of teams involved; ourselves, Tottenham, Chelsea and Newcastle. It is going to be tight but it is going to be interesting.”

Vermaelen helped Arsenal keep a fifth clean sheet in seven matches against Chelsea on Saturday - but the Belgian believes they could have had much more.

“I don't want to say [there was] frustration,” he said. “We know it is not the best result but it is not bad either. We managed to keep a clean sheet but unfortunately we couldn't score.

“We still had to win the game so we wanted the three points but in the end we got only one.

“I think it was a close game, it was not because people were tired. Chelsea came here to defend I think and sometimes the tempo was too low I think to get through there. Maybe that is why we looked a bit tired but I don't think that was the case.

“Against Wigan we started really badly in the game and I think the last two games we played to win. We didn't and they were really good chances to put ourselves into third place comfortably. At the moment we still have to fight for third place.”

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22 Apr 2012