Theo Walcott suggests Arsenal showed they have a group of players ready to win the Premier League this season in the victory over Newcastle.
The Gunners opened up a two-point gap at the top of the Premier League as Laurent Koscielny scored the only goal in a scrappy 1-0 win.
Newcastle actually created the better chances at a wet and windy Emirates Stadium but were made to pay for their continued wastefulness.
Aleksandar Mitrovic and Georginio Wijnaldum came closest to scoring for the visitors, who came up against an inspired Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal.
But it was Koscielny, scoring his third goal of the campaign, who ensured the points stayed in north London and Walcott feels Arsene Wenger’s side have now matured into one capable of winning ugly when required.
“The three points are crucial at this moment in time, especially when teams slip up as well,” he said.
“We’ve had a blip at times but it’s important that we get those hard-fought three points today. In previous seasons we would have lost that or drawn, so that’s a very good sign for 2016.
“The title is anyone’s to be honest but there’s such a belief in this team that we can do it this year. It’s been a long time and everyone understands that, but you could just sense with that performance that we know what we need to do.
“It’s up for grabs but we have the strength in depth in this squad and I believe that we can push on this season and hopefully be successful.
“A lot of games have been like that this season. The Premier League is starting to open up a little bit and a lot of teams are ready for the battle this year.
“The performance wasn’t there to be honest, but the work rate is always there and when you have work rate you always get the success that you need, want and deserve.”