When it came to crunch time in April last season Arsenal began to falter, starting with the 2-2 draw at Anfield ahead of draws with West Ham and Southampton.

While there were several factors behind that, a lack of leadership and experience proved costly.

In that Anfield game especially, the Gunners were 2-0 pu after 40 minutes but lost their heads and allowed Liverpool to score two goals of their own - and they probably should have gone on to win the game.

As a team with little experience of winning major honours like the Premier League, Champions League, European Championships and World Cup, overcoming that mental bridge is difficult.

But the team is a year older, has experienced a title race and are in the midst of a three-way fight for the top once again.

Psychologically, the penalty shootout win over Porto in the last 16 of the Champions League was significant, fending off a difficult situation to qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time in 2010.

Building a winning pedigree and leadership takes time and this season we've started to see the impact that can have.

David Raya has been a calming presence at the back, while Kai Havertz has been adaptable and pulled Arsenal through several tough games.

Perhaps the biggest impacts have been made by Jorginho - as the 'quarterback' for Arsenal in recent months - and Declan Rice, who has continuously led by example and lifted the team in big moments since he joined.

On Tuesday, Rice led out England for the first time, captaining the side on the occasion of his 50th cap in a 2-2 friendly against Belgium at Wembley.

While it was a rotated side, Rice individually had a strong game, dictating the play from deep and forming a good partnership with Kobbie Mainoo on his first England start, a partnership that bodes well for the Euros in Germany this summer.

Leadership is a big factor for teams fighting for the top trophies and Arsenal, in record signing Rice, have added one of the best around to help change their fortunes.

Up next in the league for Arsenal is the long-awaited trip to the Etihad to face Manchester City on Sunday (4.30pm).

If Mikel Arteta's men want to win the league title they have to beat the best teams - and it doesn’t get much bigger than this.