Being a football fan is a funny old game and that game goes from highs to lows, from joy to worry, relatively quickly. Take the Scum from the Lane. They may have won f**k all, but the fact that they’re about to sign Antonio Conte as their manager has a few Arsenal fans slightly concerned, because he has in fact won trophies and he is generally accepted to be a very good manager, with a pedigree that you cannot really compare to the guy they have just sacked, Nuno.

The reason I say it’s funny is because as a fan you want your rivals to be in the doldrums, you want them to be suffering and the schaudenfreude we all can take from seeing it is bliss. But you never want too much of it, because you always want that guy who will get them nowhere to just keep ticking along. We all wanted to see Tottenham bumble along with Nuno for a little longer and now they might have a guy who is actually, well, good.

Still, thankfully at least Ole is at the wheel for a while longer after their thumping of the Scum.

But that’s enough of those two horrible teams, how about The Arsenal, eh? If anyone is concerned about Conte and Tottenham actually improving, just take a look at our own team for improvement. We are all accepting that there is a long way to go and we are all appreciative that the biggest honours in football are beyond our reach right now, but it’s good to dream, eh? Yesterday I was telling you about how on my morning run on Sunday I was thinking about Lacazette as a false nine when we already have one, but my Monday lunchtime run listening to a few podcasts was one that made my foolish heart skip a bit in hope. I started to think about the fact that we have a week before we play Watford, a week on the training ground, a week for Mikel to prepare his team and make sure we are ready for the fight that Watford will bring. That’s a week of preparation that he just hasn’t had and so as I skipped along (not literally, because that would make an odd look for a 38-year-old man in West London) I was thinking about how people have always talked about how he’s a good coach. I remember my mate Dave telling me that ex-Arsenal midfielder Paul Davis had explained to him that he had been doing his coaching badges in the same courses as Arteta and that Davis had told him that people recognised that Arteta was one of the best coaching brains that people had ever seen. That was enough to get me excited but as we’ve seen over the last year, that alone doth not a top manager make, because Arteta has had to learn about his own stubbornness, about adapting his approach and belief, about learning through his mistakes.

He will make more mistakes too, just as this team will, but for the first time since that great FA Cup win, I have started to dream big again with Arteta.

What if?

What if we could have a season like Conte had when he first took over at Chelski (who were also not in Europe)?

What if these players could stay fit?

What if we can pick up some more big wins? Like Liverpool away? Or even a draw? That would be a sign of progress, right?

I haven’t felt like that for years. I haven’t had a touch of the ‘what ifs’ for so long that I think I’d almost forgotten what it is like to believe and have hope for something above your station. Because deep down I know we will get nowhere near City, Liverpool or Chelski. They are more polished, more experienced, have better players and deeper squads. Our rotation players got dumped on their arses against Brentford, Chelski and City, so any kind of injury crisis and we’re back to looking like a mid table side. I know that, you probably know that, but at least right now I’m thinking about the ‘what ifs’.

What if we go on an unbeaten run – winning a large majority of our games – until the new year? Where could that take us? Certainly to the League Cup semi final, because if we don’t lose a game between now and January 1st it means we haven’t been knocked out to Sunderland at home and we can look to see what that brings. I know, I know, it isn’t going to happen and to believe otherwise is folly, but the irrational and over-excitable part of me is starting to whir in to life after that Leicester win. And I like the endorphins that are being released as a result of results like Saturday’s. If we beat Watford on Sunday those endorphins will be back and if we’re on a run ahead of that very tough game away to Liverpool at Anfield, at least I can take the tiniest smidge of hope for the game.

The Crystal Palace game showed us that these players can have blips. They will have more. But since the restart of the season after those August internationals, the blips have been away to Brighton who have just picked up a draw at Anfield, as well as at home last minute draw against Palace, who have just beaten City. The Palace game was more worrying than Brighton for me, but in the cold light of day you can take more from the togetherness of that last minute goal than perhaps I thought we could at the time. We are starting to see the team together and as a fan that is really heartening.

As you can tell today is a positive day and I’m feeling rather chipper. Hopefully this feeling can continue for a long time when it comes to The Arsenal!

Catch you lovely people tomorrow.