Arsène Wenger believes that six teams can challenge for the Premier League title this season.
Arsenal are league leaders after five games of the new campaign, though just two points separate five teams at the summit, with champions Manchester United a further three points behind.
Wenger feels that a number of teams can compete for the championship and has been pleasantly surprised by his squad's meteoric rise since they lost to Aston Villa on the opening day of the campaign.
"I didn't expect that to happen [be at the top of the table] as quickly as that," the manager said.
"I thought of course the season is long but as you have seen everybody at some stage or another has had a bad result and that allowed us to bounce back. But as well the group has shown mentally a positive response, what I didn't worry about. But I thought some teams could have a perfect start.
"If you have a choice, that's where you want to be [at the top]. It's a very early stage but there's a compact group of teams. We are there and we want of course to stay there.
"[I believe] five, six [teams can challenge for the title]. The top four of last year, Liverpool, Tottenham, all these teams, yes.
"I think it's very compact and after five games played it's very, very early. But it looks at the moment, if you look at the quality of the games, the whole season looks to be very promising."Copyright 2013 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 27 Sep 2013