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Arsenal are top of the league sooner than I expected, says Wenger

20:33 24 October 2015

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring his side's first goal against Everton

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring his side's first goal against Everton

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Arsene Wenger admits he did not expect his Arsenal side to reach the Premier League summit at such an early stage in the season.

The Gunners took over top spot in the table for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign following their 2-1 win against Everton at Emirates Stadium.

Manchester City will reclaim the lead if they avoid defeat in Sunday’s derby clash with neighbours United – but nevertheless Wenger feels the Gunners are ahead of schedule.

“After the first game against West Ham nobody would have predicted that,” said the Arsenal boss. “After 10 games we are there and that shows we have made some ground up.

“Honestly, I thought it would take much longer – Manchester City won [their first] five games and it’s still very early in the season.

“Let’s not focus on our position – we have to continue to grow and improve and there are still many aspects in our game we can improve.

“We have to keep the desire, the concentration and the humility and try to play better football. Our results at the moment are more the consequence of team effort, not individuals.”

Wenger recalled Olivier Giroud to lead the Arsenal attack for the first time in a month and was rewarded as the French forward continued his run of goals against Everton, heading the opener in the 36th minute.

Defender Laurent Koscielny nodded in Santi Cazorla’s free-kick just two minutes later, with Ross Barkley pulling one back for the Toffees with a deflected shot that looped in off Gabriel.

But the Gunners held on to secure their fifth successive win in all competitions – and Wenger is hoping Koscielny’s goal will prove to be the first of many resulting from set-pieces.

“We know that to fight at the top we need some goals from set-pieces, between eight and 12 and I believe at the moment we are a bit short,” added the manager.

“But the fact we did that today will give us the belief that we can score more. It was a good test for the hunger of our players and I feel we played with the right focus and desire.”

The Frenchman confirmed that he intends to rest some of his first-choice players for the Gunners’ next fixture, away to Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.

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