Arsene Wenger expects Sunday’s trip to Stoke City to be just as stern a test of Arsenal’s Premier League title credentials as the midweek game at Liverpool.
The Britannia Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for the Gunners, who have won just once in the Potteries in the Premier League era.
Wenger’s men drew 3-3 at Liverpool on Wednesday, having led going into stoppage time only to concede a late Joe Allen equaliser.
With Stoke having already beaten Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United at home so far this season, a win against Arsenal on Sunday would complete a set of victories against last season’s top four.
Wenger knows his players will have to match their level of performance from in midweek to break their Staffordshire hoodoo.
“It’s a similar test to Liverpool,” he said.
“On our side, we’ll need the same intensity again, four days later, and the same desire and focus. What we learn in this Premier League is that every week you think ‘look how many surprises we have seen today, that will not happen again’.
“And the week after, it happens again and again and again, since the start of the season. That shows you that the consistency of your focus, the consistency of your determination will certainly play a big part in the outcome of this league.”
Arsenal have been consistent in recent months despite nursing a chronic injury list, which is beginning to ease at the perfect time for Wenger.
Alexis Sanchez has a chance of being involved at Stoke following his hamstring injury, while new recruit Mohamed Elneny could also make his debut.
With Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta recently back and Danny Welbeck making a possible return in a fortnight, Wenger knows they could all play their part in the coming weeks.
“At the moment we are at the beginning of January, we are in a strong position in the league and we have qualified in the Champions League.
“We are still in the FA Cup so overall we are still in a position where we can make our season a fantastic season. The fact that we have players coming back from injuries will help.
“I would say Stoke are also sharper because when we played them (at home, a 2-0 win for Arsenal on September 12) they were in a bit of a difficult patch and had some bad injuries.
“Since then, they have developed well and have moved forward well in the league, with some convincing results. I’m convinced that both teams have moved forward since.”