There’s optimism in the air

With seven wins out of the last eight, four wins a row, (albeit some scrappy ones) and goals galore from our star player van Persie, it suddenly feels good to be an Arsenal fan again.

It even seems the majority of gooners making themselves heard on the internet via forums, blogs and Twitter believe we can beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this weekend.

This wave of optimism has even affected me, usually a real pessimist who sits through every match like a nervous wreck, even at 3-0 up. Things change quickly in football, but to go from everyone fearing a fight to even be in the top half of the table following infamous defeats to Man Utd and Blackburn, why does competing up there with the big boys now seem realistic again?

Well, as I said, some of our wins have been scrappy, which is actually a breath of fresh air; the team looks solid at the back and up for a fight, a big change from recent times, almost as though the weight of criticism aimed at the club this season has produced a response.

It also helps, of course, to have a bit more luck with injuries. One has to be grateful for van Persie’s new-found fitness, and for partnerships such as Song-Arteta-Ramsey and Mertesacker-Koscielny getting regular games and a chance to get used to each other.

Meanwhile, having just seen United thrashed 6-1 at home and Chelsea losing at newly-promoted QPR (and losing Arsenal killer Didier Drogba to suspension in the process), we’re seeing that the sides above us aren’t so untouchable after all. Without key players, and perhaps a little low on confidence and energy after playing extra time on Wednesday night, Chelsea suddenly don’t look that scary.

The passing game that Arsenal play requires the players to be relaxed and confident, and that confidence comes from results. You can see on the pitch that the players believe in themselves more now than at the start of the season.

The difficulty is, as Arsenal have so often shown, one bad result can ruin all that very quickly. If it turns out we are outclassed by Chelsea on Saturday it might take a while to get that belief flowing again.

Still, while I would grab a draw with both hands right now, I think there’s enough pace and youthful energy in this team to get at Chelsea like we did in our win at the Emirates last year. If Gervinho and van Persie can link up well again, there’s a lot there to cause Chelsea trouble.

I hope our defence stays tight, and that the lack of a right-back isn’t too much of a problem. Chelsea don’t exactly play with wingers, and don’t have that direct approach that so often hurts us. I think we can leave Stamford Bridge with our current strong run intact, and even more confidence to move forward.

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