By Declan Taylor

Thomas Vermaelen is looking forward to locking horns with Wayne Rooney for the first time and is showing no nerves ahead of Saturday's encounter.

Alongside William Gallas in the Gunners’ defence, the Belgian has starred in Arsenal’s searing start to the season. So far, he has gone head-to-head with the likes of Louis Saha, Marc-Antoine Fortune and Frederic Piquionne during the side’s four-straight wins.

However, on Saturday he’ll face the unenviable task of keeping Rooney quiet.

The striker, who is likely to start alongside Dimitar Berbatov on Saturday, brought up his Manchester United century with a 56th-minute header against Wigan at the weekend.

And, when asked about facing the buoyant frontman, Vermaelen admitted that these are the clashes he moved to north London for.

“I have not played against him yet, it’s my first time,” the 22-year-old said after Wedensday’s win over Celtic.

“No I’m not nervous, every player looks forward to playing these types of games.

“I think if you play for Arsenal in the Premier League, every game is a hard game. In Holland sometimes you had a game at home which was easy but here you fight very hard.

“You are looking forward to every game but Man United is a special game.”

After the multi-million departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side appeared to start the season slowly, following an unconvincing 1-0 win over Birmingham with a defeat at Burnley.

But Vermaelen will not be reading much in to Man United’s early-season results.

“I think they are a good team, they might have sold Cristiano Ronaldo but still they have very good players,” he explained.

“When I saw them last year they are playing as a team and that’s very important.”

“I think it’s a different game again on Saturday – it’s us starting again. We had a game on Wednesday so we’ll see how we recover from that.”

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
28 Aug 2009