Thomas Vermaelen sees Wednesday night's clash with West Ham as a big opportunity to make up ground on Arsenal's rivals for a top-four place.

The Arsenal captain sees little use in playing 'catch-up' on the fixture list, and welcomes the chance to earn the three points that could be vital in keeping his side in touch with the top four.

He told the Official Matchday Programme: "This match is our game in hand on the teams around us, so that makes it particularly important and a really good opportunity. I don’t like to be a game behind everyone else, so I’m pleased that we can catch up.

Teams can slip up at any time, so we have to find that consistency of performance and make sure we do it every time

"It’s one that we have to win - we’re still in range of the teams above us and, as ever, it’s a long season in a tough league. Teams can slip up at any time, so we have to find that consistency of performance and make sure we do it every time. If we play as we’ve shown we can, then we are capable of beating anybody."

West Ham have acquitted themselves well upon their return to the top flight, and Vermaelen is well versed in the challenge they will present at Emirates Stadium.

"I know West Ham and the way they play, it’s quite physical and direct, and Sam Allardyce has done a good job at setting his teams up everywhere he has been," he said.

"They’ve signed some good players, such as Joe Cole and Marouane Chamakh - although he can’t play tonight - so we know they are strong.

"But if we believe in ourselves and go into the game feeling positive and focused then we’ll give ourselves a great chance. There is nothing to be afraid of."

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 23 Jan 2013