Kieran Tierney has admitted Arsenal are under pressure to remain at the top of the Premier League but warned there is still a long way to go this season.
The Gunners have had an impressive start to the season and are currently top of the Premier League, a point ahead of champions Manchester City.
Sunday’s 3-2 win over Liverpool was taken as a sign that Mikel Arteta’s side should be taken seriously as title contenders, but defender Tierney remains cautious having played just nine games this season.
The Scottish star has reminded fans of Arsenal’s position 12 months ago, where the club sat in the bottom half of the table but have been enjoying the lead this season and want to stay there for as long as possible.
“It was only nine games and you can’t say someone is anything after nine games.” Tierney told the club’s official site.
“If you look at last year we were down the table and we were fighting our way up. So there is still a long way to go and there is no point in even thinking that way.
‘You want to stay [at the top] Naturally; I have a bit of experience at Celtic when we were expected to be at the top and stay at the top so I know there’s pressure on you to stay there. The other teams are chasing you and we want to keep doing that for as long as possible.”
While Arsenal have flown so far this season, it’s been a stuttering start to the season for the 25-year-old. After an injury-hit preseason, the Scot then found himself in a battle for his place with Takehiro Tomiyasu and new singer Oleksander Zinchenko.
However, Tierney is fit again now and determined to capitalize on his first-team chances, especially before the home game takes a breather for the World Cup.
“It was hard”. He said looking back at the first few months of the season.
“I missed going back to pre-season from injury and the first game I played was the Palace game – that was the first week of training I had. I was just trying to get minutes here and there so it was a tough start but whether I’m first, second or third pick I’ll just keep working hard and see where it takes me.
“I would not say that [competition] motivates me more because whether I’m the only left-back or five left-backs, I’m still motivated to play and perform well. Nothing changes in my life from day to day; whether i play or not, i just work as hard as i can. I train hard and when the manager calls me I’m ready.
“I want to play every game possible, if you don’t play like all footballers you’re disappointed but if you get your chance you just have to make sure you go and take it.”
The Gunners’ sudden rise to title contenders has raised expectations for the club, but Tierney believes progress alone is the first goal for this season.
He added: “Progress is the most important thing. We’ve evolved every year, so we want to keep doing well. You just want to finish as well as possible and we know what we want and we will keep working on it.”
Arsenal return to European action this week when they face Bodo Glimt on Thursday before traveling to Elland Road to face Leeds at the weekend.