THEO WALCOTT thought Arsenal were good enough to win the Premier League the moment they thrashed Aston Villa 4-0 in the FA Cup final in May.
And now he knows he was right — because four-time title-winner Petr Cech keeps telling him so.
The England striker, 26, claims the arrival of Cech from London rivals Chelsea last summer added a crucial missing ingredient to Arsene Wenger’s table-topping Gunners.
After Cech had defied Stoke to help his side grab a point on Sunday, Walcott said: “The mental strength in this dressing room is the strongest it’s ever been.
“When you have the likes of Petr come into the dressing room he just enhances that. He’s a leader.”
Walcott admits the Gunners were left kicking themselves for fluffing the chance to go two points clear at the top of the table.
But Cech told them to stop feeling sorry for themselves and take the positives from leap-frogging Leicester after grabbing a point at the Britannia, where they had not won for six years.
Walcott added: “He lifted everybody’s heads in the dressing-room. He was saying this is a very good point because no one tends to win here.
“We’ve got to look up to him because he’s obviously been at the top level and won many things. We all have the belief Petr’s got that we can push on now.
“From the start, physically, we were up for the fight and we battled and tried to unease Stoke. I think we managed to do that.
“But while it’s a shame we couldn’t get the result we desperately wanted, it’s an improvement from previous performances here. We’ve got to be proud of that point.
“All the big clubs have struggled here. So, while there were a few mixed emotions, Petr pointed out it’s probably a positive result, reflecting on how the game went.”
Arsenal dropped four points in four days by failing to beat Liverpool and Stoke.
Now they face another tricky test against last season’s wounded champs Chelsea on Sunday.
But Walcott is proud to be on top of the most exciting Premier League he has ever known.
He said: “It just goes to show how difficult the league is this season.
“You can’t tell what’s going to happen, it’s just so tight. The amount of teams that could potentially win is probably going to be the most exciting Premier League for a neutral... ever!
“No one can call it at this moment in time but we’re top of the league and we can be proud of that.”