Thomas Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen Reuters

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has urged defender Thomas Vermaelen to take the opportunity during Laurent Koscielny's injury to prove he deserves a starting place.

With Per Mertesacker and Koscielny forging an impressive defensive partnership this season, the 28-year-old Belgium international has struggled to secure a place in Arsene Wenger's starting line-up.

But he has started the last four Premier League games due to his Koscielny's injury and Wenger has encouraged him to prove he deserves to keep a spot in his XI.

"We know Thomas has paid a heavy price for having Laurent and Per who worked well together," Wenger told Arsenal's official website.

"But he has an opportunity to show how good he is and I'm sure he will take it."

Arsenal have conceded eight goals in their last two games against Chelsea and Swansea, and they face Manchester City on Saturday with Vermaelen expected to be alongside Mertesacker in the centre of defence.

Some reports have recently claimed that Vermaelen is set to leave the Emirates in the summer, as he is not happy at all with his lack of minutes.

Indeed, he was close to joining Napoli during the last transfer window and his agent Alex Kroes recently revealed that his client had told his manager that he wants to leave North London at the end of the season.

"Thomas has told Wenger that he wants to leave Arsenal this summer," he said.

Meanwhile Wenger has praised January signing Kim Kallstrom, claiming that he can play a vital role during the remainder of the season.

"He has an absolutely fantastic attitude," Wenger said. "He's a credit to the job because of his attitude, his focus and his determination. He works hard, he's helpful and he's marvellous.

"I'm convinced that he can be important for starting or coming on in the games because he has the experience, he has quality and his attitude is fantastic."