By Chris Harris
Thomas Vermaelen insists there is no extra pressure him this season despite a string of departures from Arsenal's defensive ranks.
William Gallas, Sol Campbell, Philippe Senderos and Mikael Silvestre all left Emirates Stadium when their contracts expired this summer, leaving Vermaelen as the senior centre back alongside new signing Laurent Koscielny and Swiss international Johan Djourou.
Arsène Wenger is still in the market for reinforcements but Arsenal will look to Vermaelen to steady a defence which conceded 41 goals in the Premier League last term. The Belgian centre back is not fazed by the prospect of shouldering extra responsibility.
"No, I don't feel different pressure to last year," he said.
"It is only that we have to perform this year; that is the only pressure I feel and I think everybody has to take their responsibility on the pitch as an individual and that is it.
"We lost a few [centre backs] and only Laurent and Johan came back but it is the boss' decision what he is going to do - if he wants to buy another one or not.
"But what I have learnt from last season is that you need enough players because we had a lot of injuries last year and you need enough players to play all the games."
Vermaelen looked comfortable alongside Koscielny at the Emirates Cup last weekend and he is happy with what he's seen of both his potential centre-back partners.
"Laurent and I played together at the Emirates Cup, I have played with Johan as well and they have played together so it is the decision of the boss who is going to play," he said.
"But from what I have seen of Laurent is he is a good player, he played well at the Emirates Cup as well so I think there shouldn't be a big problem."