Updated: Monday, 09 Dec 2013 08:08 | Comments
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger challenged his side to maintain the positive attidude which has put them five points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
The Gunners were held to a 1-1 draw at home by battling Everton on Sunday as they were unable to take full advantage of slip-ups from their title rivals earlier in the weekend.
Nevertheless, Arsenal edged a point further ahead of Chelsea, who had lost at Stoke, while also maintaining safe distance over Manchester City, two of the sides they will next face after their final Champions League group game in Naples on Wednesday.
“As long as we are five points ahead, you cannot rule ourselves out even with the best desire, so let’s keep that cushion,” said Wenger, whose side travel to City next Saturday and host Chelsea on December 23.
“It shows you that it will be a tough Premier League and the consistency in the end will be rewarded.
“The consistency for us is down to us to keep this attitude until the end of the season.”
The Toffees, who had won at Manchester United in midweek, dominated for large spells at the Emirates Stadium, but fell behind to a close-range goal from Mesut Ozil with just 10 minutes left.
However, Roberto Martinez’s well-drilled side produced an instant response as substitute Gerard Deulofeu, on loan from Barcelona, slotted home an equaliser as the Gunners defence were caught square.
Arsenal then almost snatched a dramatic victory in stoppage-time when Olivier Giroud’s 25-yard effort struck the woodwork, but Everton deserved to take something back to Merseyside.
Wenger said: “We played against a very good side, in the end we are a bit disappointed to get caught back with a 1-0 result, but overall it’s still a point.”
Everton manager Roberto Martinez feels his side are now in a positive mindset for the campaign ahead.
“We showed we have gotten over that mental block in going away to those teams who are going to be challenging for the title and are being ourselves, which is a massive step towards where we are trying to get,” said Martinez, whose side extend an eight-match unbeaten Premier League run.
Midfielder Ross Barkley was at the heart of all Everton’s positive play.
Martinez has urged England to be patient with the 20-year-old World Cup hopeful, who has earned three full international caps.
“Ross has incredible potential, we need to give him time and accept he is not ready yet, that he will take time, but he has absolutely everything to mark a real era in our (English) football,” he said.
Everton signed Deulofeu, 19, on a season-long loan from Barcelona and could look to extend his stay on Merseyside.
“He has surprised me and everyone that he is ready now and wants to help the team,” Martinez said.
“We have an agreement that it could be extended an extra year as long as the parent club do not need the player.”