By Chris Harris

Denilson has welcomed the intense competition for places in the current Arsenal midfield.

Arsène Wenger's engine room looked relatively bare in the summer of 2008 when Gilberto, Mathieu Flamini and Lassana Diarra had all left the Club in a matter of months, but the situation is very different now.

Denilson, Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby were all regulars two years ago and they have been supplemented by the emergence of Alex Song and Jack Wilshere, while Aaron Ramsey is due back soon following a long injury lay-off.

Samir Nasri, Tomas Rosicky, Henri Lansbury and Craig Eastmond have also featured in Arsenal's midfield three this season, giving Wenger at least ten options in that position. Such an embarrassment of riches will limit the first-team opportunities of some players but Denilson relishes the challenge.

"It is very good and healthy to have such competition," he said.

"If you look, the manager has given all of the young players the opportunity to play, and to show their abilities. Cesc Fabregas arrived at Arsenal when he was 16 years old, now just a few years later he is the captain of the team.

"We have got one of the best teams in the world, and also one of the youngest, with players like Wilshere and Diaby. We all work together with the same idea and with huge respect between everybody."

Denilson made 49 starts in 2008/09, more than any Arsenal team-mate. That was virtually cut in half last term while injury and Wilshere's meteoric rise has restricted the Brazilian to six starts this season. Nonetheless his manager sees Denilson as a vital member of his squad.

"Denilson is a good ball winner, and someone who can move the ball very quickly," said Wenger. "In the way we see the game, that is a very important quality.

"The ball comes very quickly out of his feet and his passes are always very clean, with either foot."

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23 Nov 2010