By Chris Harris
Johan Djourou wants to follow in the footsteps of Theo Walcott this season.
The England star made a major breakthrough last term, scoring a hat-trick in a World Cup qualifier in Croatia and nailing down a first-team spot at Emirates Stadium. Djourou also enjoyed a productive campaign - making 29 appearances in all competitions - but now he wants to step up to the next level.
Walcott did exactly that last year and Mathieu Flamini went from fringe player to first-team regular the year before. Djourou believes 2009/10 could be his season.
"I hope so, I really hope so," he told Arsenal.com. "I am ready now, I am ready to step up and I have shown that in the last year. Now I just need to stay fit and show the boss that I am ready to play in the team all season.
"That's what I want to achieve this season because I really think that I have stepped up, I am strong and I can do the job in the centre of defence.
"Theo broke through last season but the centre-back position is always a bit difficult because I am only 22 and there is a lot of experience in the squad in that position. But I need to play to get that experience and I think I did that last season. Now I'm ready to go on from there.
"I think it is good that I am not so well known outside Arsenal. I am the guy who is working hard, the guy who wants to get where he wants to be. I have my belief, I know what I want and it doesn't bother me that I do not have a big reputation yet. I want to do my thing and be the best at Arsenal."
The Swiss international will face stiff competition from the likes of Kolo Toure, William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre of course, while new signing Thomas Vermaelen has given Arsène Wenger another defensive option. Djourou has partnered the Belgian in both of Arsenal's pre-season friendlies and likes what he's seen so far.
"He is a strong player and he has impressed me a lot," he said. "When the boss chooses a player he knows what he is doing and Thomas has shown his qualities already. He is a good player and he is a good guy to have in the team."
Arsenal TV Online is the ONLY place to watch live coverage of Arsenal's game against Szombathelyi Haladás. Plus you can watch highlights and reaction from our first two friendlies this summer. Coming up we have exclusive live coverage of the away games with Hannover 96 and Valencia.
Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 24 Jul 2009