Vermaelen hails Arsenal's fighting spirit

Thomas Vermaelen has praised Arsenal's fighting spirit following Saturday's FA Cup semi-final penalty shootout win over Wigan Athletic.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had come in for criticism prior to the game following a disappointing run of form that has seen them fall out of the Premier League title race and into a battle with Everton for the final UEFA Champions League spot.

The London club appeared to be heading for defeat at Wembley with less than 10 minutes to go as holders Wigan led thanks to a 63rd-minute penalty from Jordi Gomez.

However, defender Per Mertesacker levelled the scores with eight minutes remaining and, although Arsenal could not a find in a winner in extra time, Wenger's men displayed the greater composure to win the shootout 4-2.

And Mertesacker's centre-back partner Vermaelen believes that the triumph will act as a timely boost for Arsenal and ease some of the pressure on Wenger.

"There was a lot of talk about needing the result for a few different reasons, for the manager and showing we could fight and I think we did that," Vermaelen told the British press.

"It will give us a boost for the rest of the season now, we can move forward with confidence.

"I'm very happy that we'll go to the final, that's why you play these games of course.

"It was a long game with extra-time and penalties, it's never easy but it's a good win."

Vermaelen was also quick to highlight the showing of goalkeeper Lukasz Fabiani, who produced to crucial saves in the shootout.

"We did have some practices but I wasn't down to take one," he added.

"Lukasz is an outstanding goalie, he works hard for it; he works so hard that he deserves this."