Aston Villa midfielder Craig Gardner hopes he may have done enough to convince manager Martin O'Neill he deserves a place in the starting line-up for Saturday's lunchtime fixture at home against Portsmouth.
Gardner fired home his third goal of the season against Arsenal at the weekend to remind his manager that he can cut it in his preferred midfield role as well as in the makeshift right-back position he managed until a switch with Olof Mellberg this season.
Gardner's goal and a second-half fightback by the home side was not enough to deny Arsenal but the Yardley youngster, who turned 21 last month, put in another assured display to give O'Neill a welcome selection headache. Gardner, a successful product of Villa's youth academy, who returned to first team action with the suspension of Nigel Reo-Coker, said: "Have I done enough to cement my own place? I don't know, I am not like that.
"I will just take every game as it comes and if I am playing then I get a buzz. But if I am not, I want to get on the pitch and hopefully I have given the manager something to think about for next week and hopefully I'll be back in the team."
The England Under-21 international believes Villa underlined their credentials as a top-six side with their battling second-half display.
"In the second half the whole team played really well and we should have got something out of the game. We absolutely battered them," Gardner said. "It looked like Villa were top of the league and not Arsenal but we were unlucky and we have got to take all the positives out of the game and take them into our next game against Portsmouth.
"I think that is the best we have played all season in the second half. Arsenal were very good. They move the ball well but in the second half we got in their faces and made them look like a standard side. Villa looked like the top side in the second half.
"I think we gave them too much respect in the first half. We came in and the manager said to us don't concede for 15 minutes and you'll get something out of the game and he was right.
"The way we played we played second half showed what the manager is doing for the team. He added: "The manager has given us belief. We now work extremely hard for each other. Every time Arsenal got tuned in second half, we were in their faces, putting tackles in, whipping balls into the box. We combined well and all that was lacking was an equaliser.
"I think the gaffer is doing tremendously well. He said just go out there and play and enjoy it and we did and we were unlucky."
But the Villa midfielder was pleased to get on the scoresheet again with his third goal the season despite the fact he has had to make do with a few cameo roles so far this season.
He said : "I said at the start that I wanted to get ten goals so I can reach that target. I definitely think we can push for Europe now. I think we will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season."
Gardner was full praise for Villa's defence and the part they played in keeping the Gunners at bay during the second half. He said it was vital Villa kept their best defenders while adding to the squad again in January.
"Olof Mellberg is a tremendous player: He is really a centre-half and yet he has fitted in at right-back at the moment and I think it is really important we keep him," said Gardner. "We have got a small squad and it is really important we keep every single player in January. I would like to see Olof stay.
"It is squad of quality players. The gaffer has got rid of all the dead wood and brought in fresh players and hopefully he will add to that in January.
"Can we cope with the coming schedule? Yes I think we can. We get treated very well when we go back to the training ground. The cool downs are always spot on, the way we eat, the way we drink so we will be alright.
"We have to take heart from this. We have got to keep playing like we have been doing. If we do we will bounce back from this defeat and keep pushing for a place in Europe."