Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen admits he was hurt by their early season critics.

But the Belgian was happy to ink a new deal.

Talking about his sense of ­loyalty to Arsenal, Vermaelen told the Daily Star Sunday: "I thought about the ­situation with my contract for a really long time.

"Of course, I knew there were doubts from outside about the club. But the most important thing for me is that I feel happy here.

"I have only really played one year of games at ­Arsenal, so I wanted to give something back to the club that has looked after me.

"I believe in the club, I think the structure is really good. They are the main reasons I stayed.

"I think we can challenge the other clubs like Man City and Man United. We have to look at ­ourselves and we had to do that when our start wasn't perfect.

"The Carling Cup is a trophy we want to win - and not just because of losing last year's ­final."