Arsenal 2 Cardiff City 0: Mikel Arteta claims Gunners can handle the pressure and expectation that comes with a title charge

The Gunners vice-captain was speaking after the late 2-0 victory over the Bluebirds in which he claims the squad can deal with the pressure over the rest of the season

Mikel Arteta has challenged Arsenal not to bow to the pressure of leading the race for the Barclays Premier League title.

The Gunners returned to the top of the table, one point ahead of Manchester City, after a late double salvo secured a 2-0 victory over Cardiff at the Emirates Stadium on New Year's Day.

However, following next weekend's FA Cup third-round ties - when Arsenal host north-London rivals Tottenham - Arsene Wenger's side will not then be in action again until Monday January 13 when they travel to Aston Villa.

By then, Chelsea could have gone top with victory at Hull on Saturday lunchtime while City will lead the league once again if they win at Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.

With such little margin for error, Spanish midfielder Arteta - who continues to skipper the side with club captain Thomas Vermaelen on the bench - wants Arsenal fully focused on delivering their own required performance each time they head out onto the pitch.

"We are just going from game to game, because there is still a lot to play for," Arteta said.

"You can see every week there are results which are surprising and that everyone is putting pressure on each other.

"It (title race) is going to go all the way to the end and we want to be there because we want to win the league."

Arsenal had to work hard for the win over a determined Cardiff side, who were watched by manager-in-waiting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from the stands.

Eventually the pressure told as substitute Nicklas Bendtner crashed the ball home from close range with just two minutes left before Theo Walcott's neat chipped finish in stoppage time made sure of all three points.

Arsenal's victory, however, came at some cost with Bendtner having suffered an ankle injury in the process of scoring, when Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall caught him trying to make a save at point-blank range.

Lead frontman Olivier Giroud is also troubled by his own ankle problem, but could return to face Spurs.

Bendtner is set for a scan on Friday, with initial fears he would be sidelined for several weeks.

Wenger, though, insists he will not be rushed into any hasty transfers, with fit-again German forward Lukas Podolski another attacking option, although he looked rusty when deployed in a central role against Cardiff.

Arsenal have been linked with a cut-price move for Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov.

Walcott would always welcome some additional talent to boost what he believes is now a very "special" squad.

"To be fair that is for the manager to decide if he wants to go out and buy anyone, whoever will come to the club in January, if not it is going to make the club stronger anyway," the England forward said.

"It is always nice to have competition with players coming in, but January is such a difficult period in the transfer market to get players in, especially the top players.

"The boss has already said that he is looking for special players and we have got a lot of special players in that dressing room."

Walcott feels Arsenal are growing in confidence as they look to mount a long-overdue sustained assault on the Premier League crown.

"If you want to win titles then you have got to go to the end and the thing about this team at the moment is that we never give up," the England forward said.

"Every game that we win the belief gets stronger and stronger."

Bendtner, meanwhile, posted an update on Twitter thanking Arsenal fans for their messages of support.

The Denmark striker, now back in the first-team picture having seemed set to leave the club, said: "Have a scan tomorrow that will tell us more. So happy with the 3 points. Thanks for all your tweets and concerns. #fans #arsenalfamily #23"

PA

Life and Style
love + sex
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all