Well, that was a bloody load of fun, wasn’t it?

Pre game I was nervous. I’ll hold my hands up to that. I didn’t know what kind of Chelsea we’d be up against. Pochettino said beforehand Palmer would be missing, that Gusto wouldn’t be there and that Chilwell wasn’t fit.

I’ve heard that story before. John Stones was ‘out’ at the Etihad. He made the bench.

Hwang couldn’t possibly play more than 45 for Wolves last weekend. He got 60 minutes I think.

I thought Poch was playing a fast one and I – being the eternal pessimist (I can’t help it, sorry) – thought to myself “here we go. Last minute winner from one of those ‘injured’ players to break our hearts. We all know it”.

The pre match chatter was about the gents assembled with me saying “stop it. We’ve got this”.

And I really should have more faith you know, because Mikel Arteta and his players – the same players that I thought looked shattered on Saturday – delivered the kind of performance that makes you dream of something special at the end of the season.

Yes, as it turns out, this was a Chelsea team shorn of a few key players. And yes, it was a Chelsea team that defensively looked ragged throughout, but in that first half with a few chances they showed that on the counter this is still a Chelsea team that you need to be mindful of. They have pace and they create chances and despite the fact that I thought we were worthy of at least (minimum) a two goal cushion at halftime, there was still the worry of that same threat in the second half that thankfully, never really materialised.

But let’s start back at the beginning, which is Arteta’s team selection, which I thought was brilliant. Tomiyasu was in to counter any potential wide-forward threat. Partey would sit in the six and let Rice roam at left eight. And Trossard would be rewarded for his good form in front of goal by keeping Martinelli out in that wide left position.

Every decision was right. Tomiyasu was imperious. There were questions from a couple of the gents I had a chat with on the concourse at halftime about Partey, but I thought he looked more like his old self after some rusty cameos. He was moving the ball well, winning some duels, dictating from deep and he helped to contribute towards an authoritative Arsenal performance that had the hallmark of a serious team fighting for the serious honours.

I said in the morning yesterday that I thought we needed an early goal to control the narrative and that is exactly what we got. Within 10 minutes we were one up and it was Leo once again delivering with his excellent form in front of goal. We should probably question the ‘keeper a little bit being beaten at his near post, but screw it, we deserved it and although there were a few jangly nerves that we were creating chances and not getting that second, what we weren’t to know in that first half was that this Arsenal team had another gear to go against a Chelsea side who knew they were beaten as soon as the second goal went in.

And in that second half we didn’t have to wait too long to get that buffer, with Ben White unmarked and the coolest of finishes you’ll see form a full back,

As we all know now though, that was just the warm up for the second half. Havertz’s finish over the onrushing Chelsea ‘Keeper on 57 feels like a goal I’ve seen from him before in an Arsenal shirt (Brighton maybe?) and the. To bag his second to start the ramp up on goal difference on 62 was just brilliant. But we all know the team wasn’t done and Benny White White White sent us all in to raptures with 70 minutes on the clock.

And I’ll admit something to you, I was wanting a sixth and I’m not 100% happy we didn’t get it. I remember watching Wenger’s 1000th game, feeling that pain and humiliation in our failure, and I wanted to banish those demons. Selfish I know, but it felt like we could have got more and a little part of me is sad that we didn’t.

But that part is microscopic, because for this Arsenal team to go in to this game, with the pressure and fatigue of playing four games in 10 days, then delivering that performance? That was brilliant.

Bravo Arteta. Bravo those Arsenal players.

So here we are. Four points clear. Yes City have games in hand. Yes they will probably still win it. And yes we will have an infinitely harder game this coming weekend against the Scum. But by George we’ve given ourselves a fantastic platform to be in with a shout towards the final dregs of this season.

That’s another smashing of a team as well and when we all think back to December and how we didn’t seem to be clicking in attack, it feels like another lifetime ago, eh? I saw a stat today that said this was our sixth win of 5-0 or more this season and only Man City in 2019/20 have managed more on seven for the season. This is massive. We now have the best goals scored in the league, the best defence in the league, we have a goal difference which is +12 on Man City and as opposed to years gone by when that has felt like an extra point in itself for City, we are the ones who are holding that particular trump card. By all rights you’d be looking at this table and saying Arsenal are the best team in the league. But as we all know that counts for nought because it’s all based on points and if City win their remaining games then there is little we can do about it. But we have set ourselves up in such a good position. All we all ever wanted was to show that we can compete to the death and regardless of happens this weekend or for the remainder of the season, we shouldn’t take it away from Arteta and his team that they have enabled us to do just that. 

I could wax lyrical all day. There were performances all over the pitch and I’m coming to the end of today’s blog and haven’t even mentioned the best player on it: Martin Odegaard. This kid has hit his peak form at the perfect time. I just hope he can deliver like that on Sunday against The Scum. We’re gonna need it.

Back tomorrow with some more musings. Over to you, Liverpool.