Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged his side to prove the doubters wrong after insisting it is no coincidence they are top of the league.
The Gunners entertain third-placed Liverpool on Saturday with some still doubting their title credentials.
"It is down to us to prove them wrong. It is a continuation of what we started in early 2013," said Wenger.
"If you take a bigger perspective of our situation, it is not a coincidence we are where we are."
Arsenal took 35 points out of a possible 42 - losing only to Tottenham - from the final 14 games of last season to secure Champions League qualification for the 16th successive campaign.
They have continued that form this season - losing just one of their first nine matches - and Wenger is confident his squad have the strength to cope with a difficult period. Trips to Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United follow Liverpool's visit.
"I don't need to find out too much about my squad because we are a very stable team," he said. "Since 1 January 2013, we have taken more points than anyone else.
"I learnt a lot about my team through the spring period when, with their backs to the wall, we had to win every single game. I know how strong these guys are and how much they want it.
"We are title contenders and Liverpool are as well, and four other teams certainly. It is an important period, but I am quite confident and relaxed because I have complete confidence we will deal well with the period."
The Arsenal boss declined to discuss whether his summer interest in Liverpool's in-form striker Luis Suarez was now over.
Liverpool turned down two bids from Arsenal for Suarez, even though the 26-year-old pleaded with his manager and the club's owners to be allowed to join a team in the Champions League.
The Frenchman added: "He plays for Liverpool tomorrow [Saturday]. At the moment he is doing very well but what is important for me is the players who play for Arsenal.
"I believe that Olivier Giroud has proven he is an exceptional striker and I am convinced he will be able to prove that."