Arsenal defender Oleksandr Zinchenko said some of his teammates had laughed when he said at the start of the season that the club could win the Premier League title, but that the squad has now started to believe it is possible.
Zinchenko has been crucial to Arsenal’s winning run with his calm presence at the back and flexibility in attack. Mikel Arteta’s side’s 3-2 victory over Manchester United on Sunday moved them five points clear of City at the top of the standings, with a game in hand.
“To be honest, when I had just arrived, the quality I saw … obviously I knew the Arsenal team, I knew all of them before, but still I realised on the pitch we have everything to achieve big things,” Zinchenko told Premier League TV.
“I started to speak in the dressing room, saying: ‘Guys, forget top three or whatever, we need to think about the title.’ Some of them were laughing but no one is laughing now and all of us are dreaming.
“But still there’s a lot of games to play and now you can see [Manchester] United is back. City, as always, is there. Let’s see what is going to happen, but we need to move step by step.”
Arsenal have not won the league since their “Invincibles” squad won the title in 2003-04 under former manager Arsene Wenger.
Captain Martin Odegaard said Arteta’s side are not worrying about City in the title race.
“No, honestly, we don’t care about City or any other team,” he said.
“We expected them to win so that was not a big surprise and we just focused on our game, to come here and win and that’s what we did. The way we won this game gives us a special feeling that will help as well.
“It’s a long season. We’re just halfway through, there are many games to be played so we have to stay calm and humble. Our only focus is the next game and that’s all that matters. We have to stay focused like this.”
Arteta’s side will next turn their attention to the FA Cup where they take on Zinchenko’s former club City in a fourth-round clash at the Etihad Stadium on Friday.