Mark Hughes is adamant the "hysteria" surrounding Manchester City will not be allowed to derail the Blues' glory mission.
City tackle Arsenal in the Carling Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night with the gloom generated by seven successive Premier League draws hanging heavily over a week that ends with an Eastlands clash against Chelsea. The feeling outside City is two defeats could see Hughes placed under immense pressure, having spent £120million last summer alone.
"There is a little bit of hysteria around at the moment, as we have had on numerous occasions since I have been City manager," said Hughes. "It becomes predictable because we are being judged on the amount of money we have spent."
He added: "But we are progressing. We are in December and have only been beaten once. We have been frustrated by the number of draws but we know that as a group we will get stronger as the season progresses.
"Every team of mine is stronger in the second half of the season and I am convinced that will be the case again because of the quality and strength in depth we have.
"We are still very much where we thought we would be at this point - within one or two points of the teams above us, with a game in hand, so we are in very good shape."
City will be in better shape if they can overcome a youthful Arsenal side, with Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor particularly keen to impress against their former club.
Adebayor has already endured one stormy meeting - raking his studs down the side of Robin van Persie's face, scoring a fine goal, then racing the entire length of the field to celebrate right in front of the Arsenal fans - as City recorded a 4-2 success, which, at the time, suggested a title tilt ahead.
Now sights have been lowered slightly, although Hughes knows a small milestone can be achieved just by securing a last-four berth.
"We are one step away from a semi-final, which is something this club has not been in for a number of years," said Hughes. "We are at home, in front of our fans. It is a great opportunity for us."
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