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The Belgium international center back replaces outbound striker Robin van Persie and will take up the reins when Arsenal kicks off their Premier League campaign on Saturday.

Thomas Vermaelen has been chosen to replace Robin van Persie as Arsenal captain, manager Arsene Wenger has revealed.

With Van Persie's departure to Manchester United imminent, the French boss was keen to name a replacement skipper ahead of Saturday's Premier League opener against Sunderland.

Mikel Arteta has been named by Wenger as vice captain in only his second season at the club after signing from Everton last summer.

"The new captain is Vermaelen and [the vice-captain is] Arteta," Wenger told reporters. "We have many potential captains in this team."

Vermaelen joined the Gunners from Ajax in June 2009, instantly establishing himself as a popular figure at the club, scoring on his Arsenal debut against Everton and notching several more goals in his first season.

After spending several prolonged periods out of the squad through injury, the Belgium international returned to the side for the conclusion of last season and has formed a strong partnership with Laurent Koscielny.

Arsenal hosts the Black Cats on Saturday afternoon at the Emirates Stadium as it hopes to improve on last season’s third place in the Premier League, and Wenger knows it faces a tough opening test.

He said: "Traditionally it is always an intense, physical game against them. We have to create space."

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