By Chris Harris
Thomas Vermaelen is determined to make up for lost time when the new season gets underway.
The Belgian enjoyed a revelatory first year in English football, scoring eight times in 45 matches while becoming the cornerstone of a new-look Arsenal defence. Hopes were high for more of the same in 2010/11 but a long-term tendon problem restricted Vermaelen to just five appearances.
The 25-year-old did start the final two games of last season but, just as his campaign was getting back on track, it ground to a halt. Vermaelen admits he could have done without a summer break and, back at London Colney for pre-season training, he told Arsenal Player why he is hungrier than ever for success.
"I am really excited, especially after last year," said Vermaelen. "I want to prove myself again and show the people what I'm able to do.
"Personally yes, of course I am more determined, I played a lot of games in my first year and I hoped to do well in my second year but unfortunately I had a big injury and I couldn't play a lot so I couldn't show the people a lot. I'm determined to go on the pitch this year and fight for it.
"But the most important thing is the team of course and I hope we can work as hard as we can as individuals and make the team as strong as we can."
Vermaelen will be on the flight to Malaysia on Sunday as Arsenal kick off an Asia Tour that ends in China at the end of the week. The centre back is looking forward to sampling a different way of life.
"I have been to China once, for the Olympic Games, and that was a nice experience," he said.
"It's a different culture and it's always nice to go somewhere and learn about their culture. I'm looking forward to it. I've heard the Premier League is very popular and Arsenal is popular too, and that's why we are going."
The full interview with Thomas is now available on Arsenal Player. He discusses: why he didn't need a summer break, the importance of the last two games in May, pre-season training, the Asia Tour, righting the wrongs of last season, new boys Carl Jenkinson and Ryo Miyaichi and the departure of Gael Clichy.Copyright 2015 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