Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has declared for the first time his side are ready to mount a serious title challenge after Sunday's 1-1 draw at Liverpool.
Wenger says Anfield display showed Arsenal's maturity
Cesc Fabregas' late equaliser earned a point, but Wenger believes the resilience Arsenal showed proves they are genuine Premier League contenders.
He said: "We have come out of our first big test this season stronger. We played without the handbrake on.
"We have the talent to fight up there for the championship."
After this performance we will be facing United much stronger
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
Wenger's side have flourished since the sale of Thierry Henry, and he believes his young players are feeling the benefit of their experience playing together.
He added: "We played without any restrictions and we were faithful to the game we wanted to play.
"That is based on our technical quality and movement. Overall we handled the game very well. I cannot fault anyone, it was a fantastic game.
"I have always been very confident of what we could achieve this season, I said it before the season started and now we have convinced a few more people.
"The change from last season is that the players are growing, they are very young, the confidence is as strong as the belief.
"You could see signs last season, in the big games we did well, but we have now matured.
"We are disappointed not to have won, but I am very pleased with the attitude and performance of the team. The players are frustrated, but you have to be realistic.
"We were 1-0 down after just a few minutes against a very committed team who are good at set-pieces and counter-attack well. They have such good support at Anfield that sometimes that wins it for them."
And Wenger insisted the quality his side showed against Liverpool sets them up perfectly for their clash with closest rivals Manchester United at The Emirates next Saturday.
"We will go into the Manchester United as another big test, but after this performance we will be facing United much stronger."