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Vermaelen confident of finishing third

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermalelen admits he and his team-mates have stuttered in their attempts to finish third in the Premier League but insists the Gunners have what it takes to hold onto their current position.

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With three games remaining this season, Arsenal are three points ahead of fourth-placed Newcastle but have drawn with Chelsea and lost to Wigan in their past two matches, allowing the Magpies - who have a game in hand - to close the gap.

However, Vermaelen believes that the Gunners will not let their position slip, having worked so hard to climb up the table following a disastrous start to their campaign that brought four defeats in their first seven Premier League games of 2011-12.

"We didn't win the last two games, and they were really good chances to put ourselves into third place comfortably," Vermalen said. "At the moment we still have to fight for third place.

"It will be a big effort for everybody to get that third place. It is not going to be easy, but that is because you play in England and it is not an easy league. Everybody can beat everybody.

"There are a lot of teams involved, ourselves, Tottenham, Chelsea and Newcastle. It is going to be tight, but it is going to be interesting. It is going to be hard to keep third place, but I am confident that we will.''

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger also laid down a challenge to his side ahead of their final three matches.

"We are still in the driving seat, no matter what happens, and it depends on the results we make now,'' he said. "We go to Stoke [next], to West Brom [on the final day], no easy places, and play Norwich at home. I think we need to win two out of the next three.''

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