Thomas Vermaelen believes the nine-day gap Arsenal have had between fixtures has had a noticeable effect on their training sessions.

The Gunners take on Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Monday evening, more than a week after the 6-3 defeat at Manchester City. A break of this length during the busy winter months is something of a novelty, and the skipper believes the squad is in better shape for it.

Matchday programme

Read the full interview with Thomas in the official matchday programme

"We've had over a week without a game, which is a real luxury at this time of year," Vermaelen said in his captain's notes for Monday's matchday programme.

"You can see it out on the training pitches actually. Often we have some reserve or youth players joining in the sessions, but we've virtually got a full squad training now, and it's been a long time since we have had that - probably not since pre-season.

"We have had a few good sessions this week, it's been a good opportunity to prepare as a team for this match, but also it's helped some of the players who have played loads of games lately to recover.

"Normally training at this time of year is mainly about recovery, but we have been able to work on things more last week, so as I said it's been a bit of a luxury."

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 Josh James 23 Dec 2013