Arsenal F.C., long accused of being too weak during an eight year spell without a trophy, showed their growing resilience in Sunday's narrow win at Newcastle United that sent them back to the top of the table, manager Arsene Wenger said.
Arsenal F.C. moved one point ahead of Manchester City F.C. with the 1-0 success thanks to Olivier Giroud's second half header and some, mostly, resolute defending in the final stages as they sank deep to protect their slim advantage.
Wenger, looking for his first league title since 2004, hailed the uncharacteristic quality shown by his side, who made it back-to-back league wins after the 6-3 defeat by City and home draws with Everton and Chelsea.
"In the last 15 minutes ,we have shown another aspect of our team - resilience, fight. We threw our bodies in the box," the Frenchman was quoted as saying by Arsenal.com.
"You have seen today a technical aspect of our team that was quite good but as well a mental aspect that was needed in a game of that stature.
"There is something in the team that is special on the mental front where we have many times been questioned.
"But we have shown that at West Ham when we were 1-0 down, we have shown that again today when we were a bit backs to the wall in the last 15 minutes. There's a great solidarity and a great spirit in the side."
Arsenal F.C. had led the league by five points earlier this month but defensive frailties were exposed at City before disappointing draws with Everton and Chelsea moved them off top spot and left many pundits questioning their title ambitions.
Further dropped points looked likely as they trailed relegation candidates West Ham United 1-0 away in the second half of Thursday's clash before fighting back to claim a 3-1 win which they followed up with Sunday's success.
"We've come out of very difficult games," Wenger said.
"We played Everton, we played Man City, Chelsea, at West ham, at Newcastle and we dropped some points but I felt it was more down to the heavy schedule and short recovery time we had than to the difficulty of the games."
They host Cardiff City on Wednesday before Saturday's FA Cup third round tie at home to arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur marks the end of the hectic run of Christmas fixtures.
The heavy schedule has taken its toll with Arsenal F.C.'s record signing Mesut Ozil and