Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned his players not to assume victory will come easy against Wigan on Saturday.
Roberto Martinez's men may sit one place off bottom spot having lost eight successive matches earlier this season, but last weekend's win at Sunderland has lifted morale. The Gunners head to the DW Stadium having climbed the Barclays Premier League table on the back of five wins and a draw, but Wenger insists victory cannot be taken for granted.
"They are not [formalities]. The last couple of seasons, they have come back twice, where Wigan showed spirit and quality," said Wenger. "Their pitch has always been quite difficult in winter, but let's hope this time it will be all right."
He added: "They play good football so it's always a difficult game for us.
"This year we have no choice - we want to win to take the three points. Wigan will be good opposition again. For us we just need to focus on our performance and try to win the game."
After winning five on the spin to close back on the top four, Arsenal were left frustrated by last weekend's 1-1 home draw against Fulham, which was followed by Tuesday night's Carling Cup exit to Manchester City.
However, with the Gunners already safely in the last 16 of the Champions League ahead of next week's final group games, Wenger feels there are plenty of positives heading into 2012.
"The whole view is that after a bad start we are back in contention to fight for the Champions League places," he said. "We are not at the moment [fighting] for the championship, but our target is to get back into that position.
"We had a disappointing draw last week and we want of course to come back and continue our run.
"For the rest it looks like there is a group of seven or eight teams who will fight until the end for the championship - with Manchester City looking like the favourites at the moment. It is early in the season."