Defiant Arsene Wenger maintains the Barclays Premier League title is “Arsenal's to win” despite blowing the chance to end 2011 level on points with leaders Manchester United.
In what has become a frustrating trait of the Gunners' season, they failed to build on victory over championship rivals Chelsea by being held to a 2-2 draw at relegation battlers Wigan on Wednesday night after a late own goal from Sebastien Squillaci.
As such, Wenger's men remain third, two points behind United, who have a match in hand, and Manchester City, who have played two games more, while Chelsea immediately clawed back a couple of points after ending their poor run of form by beating Bolton.
Nevertheless, Wenger has complete faith his young team can deliver in 2011 — with a trip to Birmingham today swiftly followed by the visit of City on Wednesday.
“It is Arsenal's title to win. We have to go on a run and be consistent,” Wenger declared when asked whether the championship was now United's to throw away.
“The only thing we have learnt from this first six months is that the team who will be the most consistent, with great emotional stamina and resolve will win it.
“It could be the league of the mentally strong.
“It is a league with a lot of ups and downs and the teams who deal the best with that will certainly win it.”
Wenger insisted: “We have always been strong mentally, but we have not been as mature as we are now.
“I think we have courage, intelligence and talent in the squad. To be capable of putting these three ingredients together in every single game will be decisive.”
Arsenal would have been clear at the summit themselves but for home defeats to West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle and arch-rivals Tottenham, when they led 2-0 at half-time.
Yet with his team in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup, where they will face npower Championship club Ipswich, and also set for a mouth-watering Champions League tie against Barcelona, Wenger maintains there are plenty of positives ahead.
“I feel that we are on a good track, we are in a strong position,” said the Arsenal manager.