By Richard Clarke

Manuel Almunia believes this season could see the tightest title race in years.

The keeper held his nerve on Saturday to save a crucial penalty against Hull at Emirates Stadium. His stop from Geovanni prevented the visitors equalising just before the hour. A couple of minutes later Eduardo scored to make the points safe for Arsenal.

With Manchester United and Chelsea both dropping points this weekend, Arsenal are now hot on the heels of the top two.

"We reacted very well to a tricky game," said Almunia. "We showed some good character to play football against an aggressive team.

"Sometimes we look back and think, if we had been more consistent, we would be first in the table now. Until the end of the season, there will be a few teams fighting for the title and it will be one of the tightest Leagues for years.

"Not many players knew about the Man United defeat [on Saturday afternoon] before our kick-off. We were just focused on our game. I knew the result but when you are on the pitch, you don't think about other results. But you do look forward to the game a bit more.

"We don't play midweek this week and we wanted to enjoy Christmas with the family knowing you have taken a good three points."

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 21 Dec 2009