Arsenal show they can mix it with gritty performance at Stamford Bridge

If the level of performance shown by the Arsenal squad is befitting of the shirt, the vast majority of fans accept that not every game will end with three points.

So it was today against Chelsea as the Gunners at last did themselves justice in a game against the reigning Premier League champions and perennial title challengers, albeit without coming away with the maximum haul.

Though the team created plenty of good chances, they had to settle for a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge having exceeded the expectations of almost every onlooker, fan, pundit, and vaguely interested neutral.

Perhaps they even exceeded their own expectations.

It was the sort of performance that fans have been coveting for years; a match against a title rival in which the team steps up its level of performance, focuses, fights, challenges, and competes. So often in these sorts of games away from the Emirates the team has folded at the first sign of trouble, the slightest upping of the tempo.

You only have to go back to the Liverpool match a few weeks ago to see a perfect case in point – a baffling, cowardly performance that had everyone questioning just where we were headed as a club.

For every ounce of courage, organisation and spirit we lacked that day, the team had it in spades against Chelsea on Sunday. They were disciplined in defence, they were neat and tidy on the ball, and they carried a genuine, bona fide goal threat that should, and on another day would, have resulted in a goal or two.

To a man, the team looked as if it was crystal clear about what was required, where everyone needed to be at all times, and was set on genuinely competing for the points. That is a quality that has so often been absent from this squad, who look on occasion as if they have never set foot on a football pitch before.

Okay, it may not be the three points that, arguably, the team deserved, but the value of the confidence and momentum gained from such a performance should not be underestimated – and what a bonus not to come away from a big rival on the end of another 6-0 hammering, as many had feared.

As ever, the key to turning promise into points is to deliver on a consistent basis and, as well we know, Arsenal are consistently inconsistent. If they revert to type the next time they take to the pitch, the hard-won point at Stamford Bridge becomes worthless.

We simply cannot keep going back to square one as a squad, we have to learn the lessons from the mistakes we have so often made in the past.

Can we finally do it? As long as I am an Arsenal fan I will never be confident, but there are no real, credible excuses as to why they cannot. This team has shown that it is capable of competing with any rival, but it needs to show that it can fight and deliver when the pressure is on, and consistently so.

Taking another two steps back to go forward one won’t work anymore, not in the sort of fierce environment we now find ourselves in. There are a lot of big players in the league now and we cannot afford to take our eyes off any of them.

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