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The captain has struggled for minutes this season, with just three Premier League starts to his name, but the fellow defender insists his impact is vast at the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has praised club captain Thomas Vermaelen despite the Belgian's lack of game time this season.

Vermaelen has started just three Premier League matches in the current campaign, with Mertesacker and France international Laurent Koscielny currently Arsene Wenger's first-choice pairing at the heart of defence.

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The 28-year-old has reportedly shown an excellent attitude in training as he patiently waits for his chance, and Mertesacker has hailed his contribution off the pitch.

"Laurent, Thomas and myself I think we push each other to good form," Mertesacker told Arsenal Magazine.

"At the moment it is linked to me and Laurent, but I have to say that Thomas is a role model for everyone here.

"Not just because he is the skipper, but in the way he communicates, handles his situation when he's not playing.

"People always speak about those who are in the team, but you have to mention the players who are not involved in the starting XI, but who have the right influence on the rest of the team."

Germany international Mertesacker stated that the trio are all comfortable playing alongside each other for Wenger's table-toppers.

"We are good centre-backs," he added. "It takes some time to get used to each other on the pitch, and feel comfortable with the situation on the pitch.

"At the moment we know each other well, and how we behave on the pitch. We know how to cover each other, we know how our partner will handle the key moments."

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