MARK HUGHES believes his side are getting better with each game they come through after holding Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal to a goalless draw at the Britannia Stadium.
The Gunners, who moved back to the summit of the table thanks to the point they earned, could have succumbed to defeat had it not been for the heroics of goalkeeper Petr Cech and midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who combined to thwart late efforts from Jonathan Walters and Joselu.
Hughes however was pleased that his side were able to back up another superb showing against another of the top sides in European football with the rewards that their performance deserved.
“I think we have just gone up against the Champions-elect in many people’s eyes and once again we have gone toe-to-toe with them and matched them ability wise,” he told Stoke City Player
following the game.
“We haven't conceded ground, we haven't been apprehensive about what we were facing and we went out there and backed our ability against them.
“I think we are getting stronger with each game that comes our way and once more I thought that we were excellent today for long periods of the game and tested their 'keeper on any number of occasions.
“Jack (Butland) made a couple of key saves for us two, with one being especially important during the first-half, but once again we have acquitted ourselves incredibly well against another top team.”
The Welshman was also full of praise for his backline after they chalked up a ninth top-flight clean-sheet of the campaign - four of which have been against the sides who finished in the Champions League positions last term.
“They were really resolute once again, but to be fair I don't think Arsenal were ever able to get any real momentum to their play, with the exception of maybe a 10 minute spell in the second half,” he added.
“Apart from that I thought we were very much the dominant team and the team looking to ask the majority of the questions, which is how it should be considering we were at home.
“We have real belief within the dressing room now and maybe the difference at the moment is that we expect to go out, compete with and possibly beat these sort of sides rather than hoping to.”