Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has welcomed Arsenal's underdog tag in the Premier League title race and believes it suits the club to be behind fellow rivals Manchester City and Chelsea in the pundits' estimations.
The Gunners' title challenge refuses to falter, as had been expected by many, and having led the way for the majority of the campaign, the suggestions Arsenal cannot maintain their advantage have been somewhat extinguished at this stage.
The returning midfielder is set to play a key role in the final throes of the season and feels the fact his side are being labelled as outsiders for the title will actually count in their favour.
“When people are doubting you or saying you’re not capable of doing something, it gives you that motivation to prove them wrong,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told the club website.
“At the same time, when you aren’t favourites you can go about your work quietly - and the most important thing is that we know what we need to do to finish where we want to finish. That’s the only thing that matters.
“The manager, the coaching staff and as a group of players, we all know what needs to be done - to keep winning games consistently.
“As long as we keep that togetherness and that belief in ourselves, it is up to us how well we do this year.”
The battle for top spot is shaping up into a three-horse race while there are four clubs competing for the remaining fourth place, which would secure a passage to the Champions League qualifying rounds.
Chamberlain believes the "tight" nature of the top flight will continue until the very end and is looking forward to seeing events unfold over the coming months.
“This year it does seem to be really tight, especially the top half of the table,” he added. “There’s no real differentiation between the top four and the other teams.
“There is so much quality high up the league and everyone is winning when everyone else is, and at the times when teams drop points, so does everyone else.
“That is credit to the clubs that find themselves in the bottom half, because they are of high quality as well. It is a really tough year and you can’t see who is going to do well in terms of winning the league or who is going to go down. That is what makes it so exciting.”
image: © Ronnie Macdonald