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Vermaelen: Cleans sheets more important than goals

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has revealed that despite earning a reputation as a goalscoring centre-half in his first season with the Gunners, he much prefers his side keeping clean sheets.

Vermaelen, 24, netted eight goals for Arsenal in his debut campaign - including five in his first 11 games - and his presence at set-pieces proved a valuable weapon for Arsene Wenger's side.

But the Belgium defender believes that his primary focus must be keeping it tight at the back, and warned Gunners fans that a renewed committment to helping the club keep clean sheets may see him find the net less frequently.

"I know the fans are expecting goals from me and I hope I can score some this year but for me it is not the most important thing," Vermaelen told Arsenal TV.

"It sounds silly but as a defender you are happier after a 6-0 win with the clean sheet than if you have scored one goal but you concede two.

"Maybe for some people they are not happy to hear that but for me the most important thing is to defend and to defend as a team as well, and then we will get further as a team. If we defend first then we can win games. After that we will see."

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