Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal’s brilliant form throughout 2013 has earned the team more respect from their opponents.
The Gunners finished the year with more points than any other club in the Premier League, and with the second-highest win percentage in the Club’s history.
After a tough period in December, the vice-captain is confident his side are back on track now and can maintain their position at the top.
Teams are showing us more respect because we are the most consistent team in England through the yearMikel Arteta
“We had a little spell where we had a difficult time but we've come back, we're on four wins in a row and we're feeling good,” he said.
“It was a little blip but the schedule was crazy in those three days [where they faced Everton, Napoli and Manchester City]. I think we could have won one or two of them, rather than drawing.
“But at the end, we’re top of the table and we are where we want to be. In the last year or two after I joined the Club we were already 10 or 12 points behind [by now] and it's really difficult.
“When you are playing catch up it's tough, you are relying on other teams to drop points every week. It becomes nearly impossible.
“But we are where we deserve to be now. I think teams are showing us more respect because we are the most consistent team in England through the year, from [last] January. That's what we have to keep doing now through the last three or four months of the season.”
Arteta was pleased with Arsenal’s performance in their FA Cup victory against Tottenham, and he admits he sees it as a big “opportunity” for a trophy.
“I thought we put a great effort in, created many chances and won the game comfortably,” he said.
“We want to continue in this competition, we were so disappointed last year after what happened here against Blackburn.
“It's another opportunity to win a title and one that we wouldn't want to miss. It gives the whole club a lift. It shows the things we're doing are good and we want to continue like that.”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 6 Jan 2014