Arsene Wenger is in no doubt the Barclays Premier League is the toughest it has ever been as he looks to keep Arsenal top of the table against title rivals Manchester United on Monday night.
The Gunners have been beaten four times already, but still returned to the summit last weekend after victory over Fulham when United's game at Blackpool was postponed and Chelsea dropped more points.
"I don't agree with the people who say that the overall quality of the league is lower this season. In fact, you can say exactly the reverse," the Arsenal manager said.
"Last Monday night, two quality teams - Aston Villa and Liverpool - met and both sides were in the bottom half, so that opinion is not really proven by concrete facts.
"The whole Premier League is more difficult for everybody and what you call mid-table teams and bottom-table teams have improved - every single game today is a cup game for everybody."
Wenger, though, admits surprise Arsenal are still in such a strong position given the number of points they have dropped, losing three games at home.
"We are top of the table at the moment, and at the start of the season if you had said we would lose four of our first 16 games, I would not have thought we would be top, that is for sure," the Gunners boss reflected.
"It means the other teams have lost games as well, apart from Manchester United, but they have had many draws.
"We have not had many draws, and have won five games away. The positive thing is that if we manage to add home consistency to our away form, we will be very dangerous."
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