The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, believes his players' strength of character will ensure they complete their Premiership campaign unbeaten. Yesterday, his Portsmouth counterpart, Harry Redknapp, set his side the more modest challenge of stretching their unbeaten Premiership run to 10 games.
The 1-1 draw with Portsmouth on Tuesday saw Wenger's Premiership champions extend their undefeated run to 36 games, leaving them two matches away from securing their place in history. If they manage to negotiate Fulham at Loftus Road and a home game with relegated Leicester, Arsenal will become the first team to go a 38-game season undefeated.
And although that dream went close to being shattered at Fratton Park - they trailed at half-time after looking second best before the interval - Wenger is backing his side to claim their record.
"The way the players responded in the second half against Portsmouth is a measure of how they refuse to lose games. They're winners and they want to win every game. The way we played showed how determined they are," he said. "Usually you ease off after winning the championship and if we'd done that against Portsmouth then we wouldn't have finished with a point.
"The players deserve a lot of credit because to produce what we did against Portsmouth after the number of games we have played this season is outstanding. We have to take it step by step but we're facing another game like that against Fulham on Sunday. I'm convinced the players will give everything in the remaining two games.
"Anything can happen during a game - but I do not believe we'll get caught because we're not prepared. We'll be focused."
Aiyegbeni Yakubu fired Pompey into a 31st-minute lead, but the champions levelled four minutes after the interval. A Thierry Henry corner found Jose Reyes who volleyed home from 15 yards out, rescuing a point for the Gunners.
All eyes may be on Arsenal's quest to finish their league campaign without defeat but Pompey have their own impressive record to protect. With two fixtures remaining against Leicester and Middlesbrough, Pompey could finish the season on a high, especially as rivals Southampton are within reach.
Their current situation is a far cry from the anguish caused by their flirtation with the drop, but Redknapp insists survival was guaranteed once his squad's injury problems eased.
"It would be nice to keep our unbeaten record going. It's been a terrific run," said Redknapp. "We've turned it around at Fratton Park since the start of last season. We had lots of injuries and didn't have a squad. But I knew that once we got our players back we'd be safe.
"The lads have been great. I don't think there are many football clubs that have come this far this quickly and I hope people appreciate that. I know the supporters do."Reuse content