Eek, a whole week since the last post.
Which means I’m bouncing straight from a dismal post-mortem straight into this preview. I’d like to say my outlook has changed and I’m bursting with confidence. I’m certainly more sanguine than I was on Monday morning.
It’s been a funny week, coloured at the end by Wenger saying some odd stuff. There was mention of us nearly signing someone on deadline day. What was the point of that? He might as well have told me I’d nearly won the lottery.
Then he said it would be no disaster to finish third. Well, I suppose it wouldn’t to a point. Disaster is when you sell all your best players, have four owners in one year, no cash, a winding-up order. But is third the limit of our ambitions? Ultimately, it may be an achievement but history will not judge us on how many times we come third. It’ll judge us on trophies.
So anyway, onto today. The stats are here for you all to chew over, but the bottom line is it’s going to be hugely tricky for Arsenal. Chelsea will sense – as Wenger does – that we are lacking “that fraction of belief” after Sunday.
It certainly seems true that, for whatever reason, we are not the strongest side psychologically. Small setbacks can become big ones. Lots of our players are confidence players – fantastic on form, average when out of sorts. Why else would Wenger feel obliged to so frequently come out in public to reinforce the quality, belief and togetherness of his players if it wasn’t at least in part to convince them of it themselves?
The good news is we can do it. We were the last team to defeat them at Stamford Bridge in the league. We can do it again if the players come out all guns blazing, harrying, fighting, believing.
Which is why the first ten minutes will be instructive. If we come out and take them on from the first moment – rather than taking a half to warm to the game as we have done on other occasions this season – then we can do it.
It really is make or break if you ask me. Nine points behind would simply be too much at this stage of the season to overturn. It would be hard enough if it was just one team ahead of us, but there are two, both of whom have hit form.
More Sunday reading here if you can bear it: Manuel Almunia’s nerves add extra edge to Arsenal’s visit to Chelsea and Wenger worries that his side have lost belief.
Though you might want to avoid those if you’re of a nervous disposition.
Come on you reds!