Stoke 0-0 Arsenal: Gunners pass title test - Alan Shearer
Last updated on .From the section Football
Arsenal are back on top of the table after Sunday's draw at Stoke and there are several other reasons it was a significant result for Arsene Wenger's side.
The game was seen as a test of the Gunners' title credentials and, when you compare this result with their defeat at the Britannia Stadium last season, you can see the progress they have made.
The Gunners did not play well but the crucial thing is that they dug deep and were not beaten this time.
Wenger's side have fallen away in past seasons but performances like this one are part of the reason I think they will go the distance in the Premier League title race this time.
There are still many more big tests to come for Arsenal, but they will still be there or thereabouts in May.
Cech has turned Arsenal into title contenders
I don't think there is any doubt that the Gunners look more solid and have improved as a team with Petr Cech behind them, and Sunday was yet another example of what an important signing he has been.
When Stoke got through Arsenal's back four, Cech was there to save them.
He helped earn what was a big point for the Gunners because of their poor record at the Britannia Stadium - they had only won on one of seven previous league visits - and it might also prove to be an important point in the title race.
That is the way Wenger will look at it, and I am sure he will take a lot of confidence from this result.
Stoke have already beaten Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea at home this season, so they are no pushovers.
The Potters have a lot of unpredictability in their team, particularly in attack, and they are tough to beat because they have a top-class young goalkeeper as well.
Along with Cech, Jack Butland was the star of the show, and he made two excellent saves from Olivier Giroud.
Gunners in good shape going forward too
Other than those Giroud efforts, Arsenal did not threaten too often against the Potters but they were without their most creative player Mesut Ozil, who has been superb for them.
|Premier League 2015-16|
|Most assists||Most chances created|
|1. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) - 16||1. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) - 87|
|2. Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) - 9||2. Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) - 64|
|=3. David Silva (Man City) - 8||3. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - 57|
|=3. Gerard Deulofeu (Everton) - 8||4. Dimitri Payet (West Ham) - 55|
|=5. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) - 7||5. Dusan Tadic (Southampton) - 50|
|=5. Ross Barkley (Everton) - 7||6. Willian (Chelsea) 47|
Wenger got it right after the game when he said that there is no team in the world that would not miss Ozil in the form he is in at the moment.
You only have to look at the number of chances he has created and the assists he has made in the Premier League this season to see what the German usually brings to their side.
The good news for the Gunners is that it looks like he will be back soon, and Alexis Sanchez is also not far away from a return after seven weeks out with a hamstring injury.
So, all things considered, Arsenal look in good shape in attack as well as at the back.
I still think Giroud should score more goals - he has not reached 20 league goals in any of his three previous seasons for the Gunners.
Like I said on Match of the Day on Wednesday night, he should be scoring 25 league goals a season playing in this Arsenal team, because of the number of chances they create.
He is not a world-class striker but he is a very good player who is having a very good season and for the £12m he cost, he has been an excellent buy.
Giroud has 12 goals from 22 Premier League games so far - if he can get to 20 this time and Cech and Ozil maintain their form then they will have a great chance of winning the title.
Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.