Gilberto Silva believes it is too soon for talk of Arsenal mounting a Premier League title challenge this season.
The Gunners sit at the summit of English football having won nine of their opening 10 league games – with their only blemish an away defeat to in September.
A narrow win over Leeds United on Sunday saw them extend their lead to four points after suffered their first defeat of the season away at Liverpool.
It marks Arsenal’s best start to a season in 118 years, a point ahead of the Invincibles in 2003 at the same stage of the season.
Former Arsenal skipper Gilberto was part of the last Arsenal squad to lift the Premier League trophy with that unbeaten side, spending six years in north London under Arsene Wenger. While impressed with the start of the season with the Gunners in a ‘good situation’, he has echoed Mikel Arteta’s sentiments by calling for calm over a title bid.
‘At the moment, Arsenal are playing nice football,’ Gilberto told Metro.co.uk on behalf of . ‘However, I think it is a bit early to say they are title challengers but they are in a good situation.
‘I think it is important to compare the last few seasons at this stage, when they were in a very different situation. The table as it stands looks very nice and I hope they keep it that way.’
Premier League sides face a rampant run of fixtures over the next month ahead of the break for the World Cup in Qatar. Arsenal themselves face a run of eight games over 24 days beginning on Thursday with their rearranged Europa League tie away to PSV Eindhoven, followed by the visit of Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
While urging caution over Arsenal’s title chances, Gilberto believes that if Arsenal are still top when the league pauses for World Cup action, it will send a huge statement of intent.
‘The next couple of weeks will be crucial for them, until the break and the World Cup,’ he said. ‘I think it is important to keep this good run, at least until they stop for the World Cup and to try to make sure they remain in first position.
‘If they can keep the distance from Manchester City that will be fantastic. Because as we know, City are a very good team despite the fact they lost against another big team in Liverpool. They can be very dangerous for the remainder of the season.
‘But it is important for Arsenal to continue at the top. Because when they come back for the second round of the competition it is not going to be easy. Maintaining a lead in this league is not easy.’
In addition to commanding wins over the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool at home, Arsenal have demonstrated their steel on the road with hard-fought wins away to Leeds, Brentford and Crystal Palace this term.
Gilberto believes Arsenal will inevitably look to strengthen their options in the January transfer window but believes the strong core of players at Arteta’s disposal is changing perceptions of his old side.
‘In general, what is good to see in the team is the fighting spirit. They don’t give up at any time,’ he said. ‘They have a young team, a talented team. They play a strong game. In the past, people thought Arsenal was an easy team to play against because they are not strong physically. Now they are competing.
‘The side has good pace, as we used to see in Arsenal in the past and there is quality up front when they build up their game from the back. This is how I want to see Arsenal. But let’s see. But there is a chance they bring in one or two players to reinforce the team.’
, ., and .