Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged his side to make sure their tremendous start to the campaign does not go unrewarded, admitting that the hard part of their Premier League challenge begins how ahead of a daunting run of February fixtures.
The Gunners returned to top spot this evening with a 2-0 victory over London rivals Crystal Palace at the Emirates, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain capping his return to a starting central midfield role with a brilliant brace.
Wenger's men now lead Manchester City by two points and Chelsea by four having played a game more than their immediate title rivals, who meet tomorrow night in a crunch clash at the Etihad Stadium.
Injuries and suspension are threatening to leave Arsenal short as they look forward to a run of fixtures which sees them play Liverpool twice, Manchester United and Bayern Munich in the space of 11 days, but Wenger is adamant that his team will not wilt in a pursuit of silverware that has caught critics by surprise so far this term.
When asked why Arsenal continue to be overlooked by analysts in his post-match press conference Wenger replied: "Because in the last seven years you have ingrained that in your brain, it's difficult to change and I can understand that.
"I've said many times that we can do it but we face quality competitors at the top. Man City have already scored 100 goals and for that reason they look the favourites.
"I say yes we can beat Man City but we have to show it. After 24 games we are there, now we have to do it for the rest of the season but we are strong enough to do it."
The Gunners are unbeaten in 11 matches across all competitions following their success against Palace, overcoming a spirited Eagles rearguard thanks to Oxlade-Chamberlain's clever link-up play on successive second-half occasions with Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud.